Elles is a typically French film that asks some important questions about human nature and male-female relationships, but never really gets to the heart of the matter. Focusing on feminist writer Anne (the ever-talented Juliette Binoche), it explores the world of intelligent but mis-guided young women who sell their bodies to ageing married men to fund their tuition fees. Initially drawn to the women as material for her article, Anne finds herself moved by their desperation, which ultimatley affects her own marriage. Part of the problem with the film is the lack of any real resolution in the story. Director Malgorzata Szumowska carefully sets up the stories about the two student prostitutes but then doesn't bother to tie up loose ends. However, it's a good, moderately provocative film that makes you wonder why men are willing to buy sex and why women are willing to sell it.
Prostitutes are not just victims of sex traffickers but young women who want to improve their standing of living through a third-level qualification. This film should be seen by all Irish public officials and public intellectuals as well as students who seek insight into the consequences of university charges on disadvantaged students.
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