Elles - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Elles Reviews

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½ January 13, 2016
Juliette Binoche is the greatest European actress in an age when the European cinema does not exist already.
August 3, 2015
Ma?gorzata Szumowska's study of female sexuality gets bit lost as it moves forward, but once it remembers to return to focus on Juliette Binoche it leaves a sting.

The story concerns an upper-middle class Parisian journalist, Binoche, who pursues her magazine editor's assignment that causes her to re-evaluate not only her marriage but herself. Binoche is quite amazing in the role, but this is nothing new for an actor of her caliber. The other actors are all competent, but none possesses the charisma and presence that Binoche is able to utilize to great impact when Szumowska and Tine Byrckels' script fails to articulate what she is required to show us.

The main problem with this film is the director's determination to explore the professional lives of the young women Binoche's character decides to interview and ultimately even follow in pursuit of a story about immigrants and prostitution.

We waste time behind doors with these young women and their "johns' and "boyfriends" --- and Szumowska seems to be confused if she it striving to make a valid commentary about prostitution or is she is more interested in simply being provocative. When it comes to the two younger female characters, it often feels a bit like a late night cable attempt at "edgy" erotica. It doesn't work or sever the film well.

The real power of the film is the impact of both the exploitation of these women and strange mix of pity and jealousy of these two near-broken lives. Binoche's "Anne" is both repulsed and attracted to the idea of being paid for sex. The girls' stories serve as a sort of disturbing eroticism for her.

She begins to project their adventures on to her marriage and life which she has become bored. When the film focuses here, it is amazing.

As the film nears its end we see Anne slip into fantasy at an awkward dinner party. Anne is desperate for more, but she may or may not be smart enough to realize that these new "desires" are mired within a degrading objectification of female as "sexual receptacle."

These girls are more than that. As is Anne. But our director is smart enough not to give too much away regarding how Anne will re-assert her sexual identity.

I can't help but wonder if part of this film's problem has to do with the fact it has been written from the viewpoint of French as Second Language artists. Maybe something gets lost in translation.

The sex scenes feel out of place and more graphic than required. But Juliette Binoche is an endlessly fascinating actor -- it is her performance that keeps us watching and saves the movie.
March 6, 2015
I love Juliette Binoche. She is so earthy and believable. She plays a reporter who is doing a story on prostitutes, getting in-depth with them to the point of fantasizing about the stories they tell and becoming aroused by the girls themselves. Not as much nudity as you'd imagine for a NC-17 rating, which the movie clearly does not deserve. The whole thing is barely watchable though because the story moves too slowly and the girls and their johns just aren't as interesting as Binoche finds them..
½ December 29, 2014
Critics and viewers alike didn't enjoy this film. Well guys it's not one to enjoy and it offers no easy conclusions. Juliette goes large on the risk taking here: there's a lot of nasty sex shown here, and lots of confusion and despair for her character. It's not comfortable to watch and there are no simple outcomes. The main character is destabilised by her encounters with two young student prostitutes. Their stories are told explicitily. She loses any sense of her own place in her marriage and with her children, and sees all male-female relationships in the context of sex and exploitation. The time frame of the movie is skewed, with the events of a single day enveloping a larger tale. Not a bad movie, but a difficult one. Thanks, Juliette.
May 19, 2014
Moderately successful and ultimately thought-provoking French film on men's sexual desires and the choices women face in delivering them - be it as escorts or wives. Binoche is great as ever but some of the scenes are just too awkward and the pace too clunky for this to be what it aspires to.
April 23, 2014
i hate movies with over the top sexual content, but to the films credit the story is told pretty well and juliette binoche is always great.
½ April 13, 2014
It could have been more than just an arousing discussion material but it failed
April 5, 2014
The movie had potential, but ultimately wasted it. Potential was for an intriguing tale of voyeurism and vicarious living of an author's/researcher's life through the lives of the people she interviews for her work, and ultimately how this affects her.

In reality, the movie goes down this path, but pulls its punches and goes nowhere. For all the nudity and sex, the movie isn't that gritty, ultimately.

I was expecting a profound ending, but was very disappointed. There is no life changing, just voyeurism.

Solid performance by Juliette Binoche in the lead role. Good support from a cast of unknowns.
½ March 9, 2014
Malgoska Szumowska runs a couple of miles giving you a great developing of the argument, but she inevitably falls flat at the end of the race when Juliette Binoche's character suddenly sits at the same table that once made her run out of fear, as saying: you certainly can't live with the burden of this girls. Well maybe she couldn't do it, but the whole "easy way out of it" situation that ended up in a "easy way out of it" finale it destroyed the great amount of effort that Szumowska put on her work from the beginning.
February 24, 2014
Interesting French movie, but sort of thought it was going elsewhere.
½ February 23, 2014
Gross. It seemed more like a porno than a movie actually trying to portray an interesting story.
Super Reviewer
½ January 17, 2014
In "Elles," Anne(Juliette Binoche) is a journalist who works out of her home that she shares with her husband and two sons. Her latest assignment is chronicling the lives of young escorts in Paris. Charlotte(Anais Demoustier) lives a double life, keeping her professional life from her family and boyfriend and working under an assumed name. Anne bluffs her way to make an appointment with Alicja(Joanna Kulig), another escort. After some reluctance, Alicja tells her tale of woe which starts with her arrival from Poland as a student only to find sexist landlords, her belongings stolen, an unsympathetic mother back home and eventually a home in the suburbs.

Even with all of the smooth tracking shots in the world, there is no getting around the fact that "Elles" is one severely disjointed movie. A lot of that has to do with what it tries to say on the subject of prostitution. It is one thing to accentuate the erotic side of the profession; it is quite another to say that Anne with her comfortable life is in a less enviable place than the women she is profiling, as she might also have a drinking problem. And again there is only so much Juliette Binoche can do with such limited and inconsistent material.
½ January 9, 2014
Juliette Binoche is always captivating, but the parallels this movie wants to show between the prostitutes and the bourgeois journalist were better explored in "Belle du Jour."
½ September 25, 2013
A very deep subject that is nicely filmed but the directors approach to it is dull.
August 17, 2013
Szumowska as a filmmaker seems more confused than the characters she presents. Less an exploration into female sexuality than an exploration into the selling of female sexuality to the whims of men as customers. The correlation between prostitution and marriage never really connects. However, Juliette Binoche has enough presence to carry this film to some redemption. Her performance is brilliant.
August 11, 2013
yeah blah, married housewife not happy with her sex life......give me something more to work with.
½ July 25, 2013
A captivating story of how things we see daily are cast a new light on. Tour de force of ageing Binoche and talented Szumowska.
June 30, 2013
Prostitution is often used in films to depict the humiliation and inhumanity of capitalism but ELLES takes a far more complex and distant approach. Here prostitution is used to examine issues of class, education, and femininity while also hitting on the horrible depths we all must hit to survive in our competitive society. Never banal and thankfully never titillating, ELLES is held together by three wonderful female performances. There's a connection amongst these three but also huge separations of class that are glaringly apparent in every way. ELLES examines deep unhappiness and frissures but also the desire to move on and survive. A fabulous ending where nothing is resolved, implies we're all on this machine that will not stop for us or anyone else. ELLES is ultimately a haunting film about a society that marches on and over us.
March 30, 2013
A bit self-involved and melancholy for my liking. Has that depressing and washed out feel to it, reminiscent of a Scandinavian detective drama. Binoche is good in it and Demoustier and Kulig performed well, but it just seemed a bit pointless and didn't really go anywhere.
March 15, 2013
Well I guess Juliette Binoche's being in it made me think it would be something special but it wasn't. Sure there were a lot of sexy scenes which I don't object but the purpose of the movie wasn't clear.
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