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Juliette Binoche in "Elles"

As I am generally loathe to hurt the always marginal market for arthouse films, let me start out by saying that the French film Elles contains lots and lots of sex, enough to get it an NC-17 rating that I doubt anyone contested. The sex is performed by a pair of college girls who are working their way though schools as prostitutes, and is as explicit as can be without crossing the line into porn.

That should put a few butts in the seats. Let me go on to say that the film is otherwise 100 minutes of pseudo-intellectual banality, shot with such amateurish technique that I was sure it was made by a recent film school grad. (I was wrong: Director Malgorzata Szumowska is in her late 30s and has a dozen other films to her credit, all of which I plan to avoid should they ever come my way.) Juliette Binoche stars as a journalist doing a story for a Paris magazine on schoolgirl prostitution, uncovering along the way ironies about the role of women in French society that haven’t seemed radical since the salad days of Jean-Luc Godard. It’s the perfect movie for college students in need of a film to analyze for a paper, with themes so obvious and hackneyed that you can’t possibly miss them.

Watch the trailer for Elles

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