Netflix A-Z: Young & Beautiful (Jeune & Jolie, 2013)

As we approach the end of the alphabet, it just gets harder and harder to choose movies because there are such limited and obscure choices. I actually had Young & Beautiful on my list, mostly because I mistaked the main girl for another actress which I soon learned was not the case and that this was actually a French movie. Well, that’s okay. I haven’t dived into a lot of foreign movies for this round of Netflix A-Z so its well-deserved.

Let’s check it out!

Young & Beautiful (2013)
(original title: Jeune & Jolie)

Young and Beautiful

Director and writer: Francois Ozon

Cast: Marine Vacth, Geraldine Pailhas, Frederic Pierrot, Fantin Ravat, Johan Leysen, Charlotte Rampling, Nathalie Richard, Laurent Delbecque

After losing her virginity, Isabelle takes up a secret life as a call girl, meeting her clients for hotel-room trysts. Throughout, she remains curiously aloof, showing little interest in the encounters themselves or the money she makes.-IMDB

Young and Beautiful is an interesting movie, mostly because it starts almost as abruptly as it ends. We dive into the four seasons as a timeline in the life of our main character, seventeen year old Isabelle.  We start with the summer and the innocent girl that she is when she starts having sexual desires and ends up losing her virginity and the sudden interest in the German guy she did it with right after. As we enter into the next season, Autumn, she has taken on a double life as a student and call girl even if she doesn’t need the money and doesn’t seem to care too much about her sexual encounters either until something happens to make her stop.  Winter enters with a follow up of what happened and her secret life being uncovered and how she deals with it where we learn a little more about Isabelle and the possibilities of why she could be choosing this life. And we end with a quick look into Spring when she contemplates going back to the secret life and facing what happened and somehow maybe finding herself again.

Young and Beautiful

However, Young and Beautiful is absolutely confusing to watch.  It leaves a lot of loose ends and it made me wonder if that was the intention: to let the audience divulge what they feel in that scenario, except I don’t know the statistics on how many actually go through a call girl phase or experimental sex phase or something, because there has to be something relatable and somehow while Marine Vacth, the main lead, does a really great performance. Its one thing to watch someone’s life like in Boyhood but its very much another story when its just zooming into someone’s life for a year as they enter into adulthood and the drastic decisions they make and not really get any answers. There’s a thousand possibilities why Isabelle would choose her path and while one of the talks kind of give us a little hint into it, there is nothing certain, maybe its because even she’s not certain if its for a feeling or an excitement or finding who or what turns her on.  Because she is running away from just one sort of men, its the ones that really like her and start attaching to her family.  Maybe its the fear that she’ll get hurt if she commits or get judged by her actions that she’d rather just let it go before it becomes more? You see, there are questions upon questions that are unanswered.

Young and Beautiful

That might just be what is the downfall of this movie: lack of character development.  It teases us with our characters.  I can understand that the focus is on Isabelle and the choices she makes and she does a fine job at it even if a lot of her is still blurry.  I already talked about that in the previous paragraph but then we have the younger brother, Victor that seems like there was more they wanted to do with his character and he pops up randomly during the movie doing stuff that seems to elaborated and yet, it wasn’t. Same goes for the relationship her high school friend Alex that maybe should be more and yet it wasn’t.  Isabelle’s mom also had a bit more screen time but yet we only had hints of what happened and the divorce and her new marriage and all that stuff.  Its a lot of plot that needed to be filled in and yet wasn’t. It makes it even more empty when the movie just stops and the credits roll.

young and beautiful

 Despite in an extremely small role, Charlotte Rampling does make an appearance in Young and Beautiful.  And she has some amazing French.  I didn’t know that before so that was incredibly impressive and even in her rather vague and awkward role, I still think she did great.  But then, my point is that every single actor did a good performance.  It was really the very vague plot that didn’t connect well together that was the main issue.

Overall, Young and Beautiful is a French coming of age drama about one year in the life of a young girl who loses her virginity and turns into a call girl and whatever happens after to make her find something about herself.  Only issue is that it starts and ends abruptly and there isn’t enough character development of Isabelle or the characters around her to even have a chance of understanding what the message was. Maybe the message is that many things that happen in your life can influence your (at times, drastic) choices and no one can find relief except facing them yourself.  That’s the best I can do with what they gave me.  Its not that I didn’t connect with Isabelle but I just wished the plot was elaborated a little more because the concept of using four seasons and the progression of events was a clever idea.

Have you seen Young and Beautiful?

StreetDance (2010)

Some of you may know I’m very much a musically inclined person and I may not dance very well but I love dance movies, especially Step Up series.  I love them! They are fun and energetic and I sometimes pretend I can bust a move and try in my room (just never in public).  So, I always give chances to these movies.  They aren’t masterpieces but they are cool. I’ve heard of StreetDance but I’ve never seen much publicity on it.  Honestly, the poster looks a tad cheesy but its been sitting in my Netflix list for a few days and I needed to unwind with something less heavy after Contagion and Conviction (which makes this review pretty late), so here we are!

Let’s see what StreetDance is all about!

streetdance posterDirector: Max Giwa, Dania Pasquini

Cast: Nichola Burley, Richard Winsor, Ukweli Roach, Frank Harper, George Sampson, Charlotte Rampling, Rachel McDowall

Jay 2.0 just passes the auditions to enter into the UK Champions Final.  If they win this, they get their big break to go to the World Champions in New York.  Right after this, Jay (Ukweli Roach), the leader of Jay 2.0 says he needs a timeout from everything including his girlfriend Carly (Nichola Burley) and passes on the crew to her care.  The crew doesn’t have money for renting space to rehearse and while on her delivery job, she meets Helena Fitzgerald (Charlotte Rampling), the head of the ballet school.  Helena is impressed by Carly and her crew’s talents and offers to let them rehearse in her studio for free but with the condition that they have to include her top 5 ballet dancers into their routine. With no choice, Carly decides to take on the challenge and see what she can make of it.  Could ballet dancers turn into street dancers? Will they have their routine ready and win in just 5 weeks? Or maybe, there’s something more, after all, ballet and street are both just different forms of dance. Maybe accepting to see the point of view through Thomas (Richard Winsor), one of the ballet dancers, would open up new possibilities.

StreetDance

StreetDance is just another dance movie.  I would agree with that completely because it has all the elements you would find in Step Up series as well.  In fact, what makes StreetDance stand out for me is that its not set in US (like usual) but rather in UK.  It gives a new style to the movie.  The language is a bit different and at the same time, the interaction and vibe is also different.  Its refreshing to see how they put together a dance movie with a different setting giving it a little something extra.  I really liked the change.  This also brought on some good music choices as well, a lot of which I haven’t heard before.

StreetDance

The story is about meshing ballet with street dance and seeing if the two worlds can actually go together.  The idea that dance is a universal language regardless of the style.  While its about two worlds, it also adds in the side story of Carly, the leader of street dance crew and Thomas, a talented ballet dancer and their romance that kind of grows. Why I say kind of is because there is a bigger emphasis on the infatuation of Thomas to Carly more than the other way around since she is still getting over Jay for a good part of the flick.  Although meshing ballet and street dance isn’t a new concept, Step Up did it, in many ways I found this one better than that one.  Maybe its because I like the characters more in this one, maybe its because its gives focus on not only two dancers but on a group effort, seeming a bit closer to Step Up 3 or 4.  Plus, it has some neat dance choreography and good tension here and there.  It brings in a good level of fun.

StreetDance

I don’t really know how to dissect a dance movie other than saying whether I had fun with it or not.  However, the acting here is not immense but it does make up for it with some unique dance choreographies and some pretty awesome dance music.  It made me really fall in love with the movie. In fact, I went back to watch the full movie for the whole week afterwards, which was probably one of the reasons why I haven’t posted this up yet and especially going back for the dance parts because its just fun.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to street dance so it particularly pleases me. I’ve also had all the music on repeat on my MP3 for the last 2 weeks.  Its upbeat and motivating and helps to wake me up during the day 🙂

In my last post, I talked about the movie that brought back Bodyrox into my life and this is it so before I wrap this review up, here’s a song from the movie:

Or maybe one thats more known:

The second video has clips from the movie so maybe you can get a quick idea of the movie.

Overall, StreetDance isn’t an epic dance movie but its new setting and style gives it something new and gives it a breath of fresh air.  The cast are not great actors but the characters they are given makes it attractive.  The best part is to sit back and enjoy some upbeat music and watch some brilliant dance choregraphy.  The idea of finding yourself and breaking out of the norm and that dance is an universal language works very well.

Are you into dance movies? Whats your favorite? Have you seen StreetDance?