Jeune et Jolie (Young and Beautiful)


If the cover art (see above) of Marine Vacth’s Isabelle, her naked body barely covered by the sheets, makes you want to pay to see a film about teenage nudity, you won’t be disappointed by Jeune et Jolie. Francois Ozon‘s 35th film is a softcore tribute to a certain type of middle-aged male’s fantasy about prostitution. It charts the decline (or ascent if you see such behaviour as empowering) of Isabelle from impatiently virginal teen on summer holiday with her parents through the grand tour she takes of Parisian punters to an unsatisfactory ending for both viewer and cast.

In one of Jeune et Jolie’s first scenes, we see Isabelle reading Pierre Laclos’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses on the train. This brief shot of a seemingly precocious teen is an adequate synopsis of what Ozon conceives of the next hour and a half.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses is about two ex-lovers and rivals who turn sex into a cruel game and use it as a weapon to humiliate and degrade. To some it was an articulate indictment of French decadence and a prelude to the regicide that led to the first republic. To others, it was just another C+, some-positives-but-could-do-better, piece of vaguely amoral fiction. Jeune et Jolie is very much the latter.

It’s easy to tell that Vacth is a former model. Unlike the social-media duckfaces, she pouts with the verisimilitudinous sincerity of an old pro. Something which, as a cursory glance through the high-fashion literature will tell you, extends to two looks: moody and seductive. The film does have some variations on those two themes; occasional diversions into indignant/moody or naïve/seductive, but it’s still very much a gateway role. Something which is intended to take her from sample-size statue to engaging actress; a title she is some way from attaining. The role doesn’t require much more than nudity and a pretty face from its lead and Vacth is clearly more than capable of both.

There will be a divide when the cumulative marks for Jeune et Jolie are totted up. So as not to impose gender-specific rules of attraction, it would be wiser to state instead that this film will inspire greater enjoyment from those that seek XX instead of XY. As the Rotten Tomatoes scores show, those people have an incredibly verbose way of explaining how, “I really enjoyed watching her naked for ninety minutes. And for three and a half minutes later that evening in the privacy of my own home. 8/10.”


Jeune et Jolie (Young and Beautiful) is release in UK cinemas on 29 November