Juliette Binoche delivers another mesmerising performance as a Parisian journalist whose research into student prostitution destabilises her bourgeois domesticity. Installed in a fabulous Paris apartment, Binoche is a wife and mother with a fulfilling job writing for Elle magazine, yet the testimonies of two undergraduates (Anaïs Demoustier and Joanna Kulig, both convincing) who’ve been subsidising their studies by selling sex throw a new perspective on her own thwarted sexual yearnings and limited freedom of choice.
While some critics have accused the film of a rather too rosy and seductive portrait of the oldest profession, it’s worth remembering that we may be seeing events through Anne’s particular perspective, while there’s much to be said for allowing the thematic ideas to breathe rather than battering us into outraged submission.
Particularly noteworthy is the way director Małgorzata Szumowska adopts the Michael Haneke trick of never allowing us to get our bearings in each scene: nothing’s to be taken for granted here, except Binoche’s excellence, of course. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)