The Beautiful Person (La belle personne, France 2008), Loosely based on Madame de Lafayette’s landmark 1678 novel La Princesse de Clèves, maverick director Christophe Honoré’s new film, The Beautiful Person, tracks an ensemble of Parisian high school students as they navigate through the turbulent imbroglios of young love. The voluptuous and enigmatic Léa Seydoux plays Junie, a world-weary 16-year-old who has just transferred into the school following the death of her mother. Immediately becoming the center of attention, she chooses the gentle but intense Otto as her boyfriend. But what could have been a smooth transition into her new environment is complicated by the ardent attentions of her unscrupulous Italian teacher Nemours, a serial seducer played in a carefully disheveled bohemian manner by the dashing Louis Garrel. As passions flare, it becomes readily apparent that Nemours maintains a rather liberal approach to student-teacher relationships. Director Honoré brings to the mix a heartfelt empathy for the emotional enormity and painful yearning that are part and parcel of teenage relationships, deftly capturing the romantic intrigue and sexual frisson familiar to teenagers everywhere. A former critic for Cahiers du cinéma, Honoré revises the familiar filmic iconography of the French New Wave with rigor and affection, adding to it a contemporary pop sensibility and a willingness to treat teenagers as intelligent and interesting human beings.
Written by Christophe Honoré, Gilles Taurand. Photographed by Laurent Brunet. With Louis Garrel, Léa Seydoux, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet. In French with English subtitles. 90 min. Distributed by IFC Films.
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Added by cinesoul on August 12, 2009