2019 Film Reviews - 34: Elles [dir. Malgorzata Szumowska; 2011]
Although it doesn’t exactly make new observations about relations between the sexes, it cannot be denied that Szumowska’s Elles offers a succinct summary of themes that are always worthy of reappraisal: cycles of exploitation between men and women; gender-based hypocrisy in the sphere of work; sex as a form power. My objection is with the way in which the director has chosen to explore these ideas. Her framing device - a journalist writing an article about students supporting themselves by turning to prostitution - is fine in itself. But because she opts to cram her lead character’s crisis-bound development into little more than one day, Szumowska stretches credibility and causes her many flashbacks to come across as contrived and pretentious. The director adopted a similarly ‘elevated’ tone in Body/Ciało, with equally unconvincing results. Perhaps she ought to trust in the power of her stories and present them in as straight a way as possible, without resorting to needless narrative quirks, not to mention questionable, explicit imagery.