This reminded me of Shame in an interesting way: both are about troubling sexual behaviors, but neither is interested in the motivation behind those behaviors — or at least, not interested in explaining them to us.
This film is less problematic in the sense that it doesn’t pathologize the behavior quite as much — in the absence of character context, Shame turned into a story about the inherent evils of masturbation and casual sex — but I’m not sure that it’s better. It’s not bad, but I still wanted it to show me more than I was getting.
And by show me, I don’t just mean breasts. We get plenty of those. This is ostensibly a story about a teenage girl’s experience of sexuality, but much of it is about director Francois Ozon‘s experience of a teenage girl’s body. Ozon is openly gay, but the film nevertheless feels more about the male gaze than about his character’s point of view.
Isabelle (Marine Vacth) starts the film as a virgin, then becomes a prostitute, so there is a sense that we’re meant to be watching a significant change in her character, but I never saw it. Like Blue is the Warmest Color it’s more attentive to what she’s doing with her body than what’s going on in her head.
There’s also an odd dynamic between Isabelle and her brother, slightly incestuous, lacking boundaries, but it’s not explored very fully either, so I don’t have much more to say about it.