Brought to you by Polish writer/director Malgorzata Szumowska, Elles is about two young students in Paris who have turned to high-end escort work to fund their lifestyles.
The juicy bite of the story however is found in a third character, a journalist named Anne (Juliette Binoche), who is interviewing these two unfortunates for an article about the who, what and why of student prostitution. But from the start Szumowska positions Anne as the character to pity, as she enters into a fantasy world of voyeurism, and starts to dream away from her life of happy family hell.
The two different tales, told by the unsuspecting Charlotte (Anaïs Demoustier) and by contrast the sexed-up Alicja (Joanna Kulig), intertwine with Anne’s life in numerous ways and she starts to need them, to become addicted to them. Throughout the film we see Anne in over sized men’s shirts, baggy trousers and with scruffy hair. Dominated by the three males in her life, found in every corner of her house, she begins to feel imprisoned. Some aggressive scenes take place just between Anne and her fridge. Although she has a dream job, a silver fox husband and two children, she longs for the excitement and freedom of two student prostitutes and has not half the power and pride about her existence as they do.
Elles does not offer a great deal of conclusion, but will make you think about how the sordid industry might just be on the doorsteps of quite normal homes.
Elles is out now in selected UK cinemas.
Text: Paris Bennett