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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Elles (2011)

Elles (2011)

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Released 26-Jun-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Erotic Drama Theatrical Trailer-Theatrical Trailer (1:39)
Trailer-Palace Films Trailers (8:10)
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 94:27
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:22) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Malgorzata Szumowska

Madman Entertainment
Starring Juliette Binoche
Anaïs Demoustier
Joanna Kulig
Louis-Do de Lencquesaing
Krystyna Janda
Andrzej Chyra
Ali Marhyar
Jean-Marie Binoche
François Civil
Pablo Beugnet
Valérie Dréville
Jean-Louis Coulloc'h
Arthur Moncla
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Pawel Mykietyn

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     French films about prostitution anyone? Is this something new? No, think of Jean-Luc Godard with Vivre sa vie (1962) and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967) or Luis Bunuel's Belle du Jour (1967). The theme of exploring people who sell themselves out to get by has been famously studied during and immediately after the French New Wave cinematic era. Does Elles have something new to add on the topic? This is what we, the audience, have to consider prior to viewing this film from Polish filmmaker Malgorzata Szumowska.

     When most people think of prostitution they think of bordellos, pimps and drugs. Essentially, it is a seedy and dangerous lifestyle. But, what about those who choose to engage in prostitution for reasons that may not seem quite logical to the normal, average person? Is it due to desperation or curiosity or both? Elles looks at these issues in a dramatic and intriguing way, through the guise of Anne, an investigative journalist.

     Anne (Juliette Binoche) is a seemingly happily-married journalist, whose latest project is writing an article about Paris’ students for Elle magazine. She struggles with finding the time and energy to raise a teenage son and a smaller daughter, do housework and still find the time to conduct research. Anne interviews two young college students (Joanna Kulig and Anais Demoustier), who, for different reasons, work as prostitutes. The descriptions of their work are quite explicit, and it involves several types of men, mostly married and bored, often with peculiar requests. The men are shown to be ordinary, both young and old, predatory and insecure. The assignment starts to make Anne question what she values in her own life and marriage, and this becomes the focus of the film as the audience is left to ponder the outcome of the two students who have turned to prostitution.

     Malgorzata Szumowska has chosen to show her audience a slice of daily life which we ignore or simply are not familiar with, but is as common now as it was in the 1960s when similar movies about the subject were made. Student prostitution is just one method that people choose to undertake to get by, I guess. (Although it may not be yours or my 'cup of tea', as they say!) The film is graphic in its depiction of sex and includes nudity, so its R 18+ rating is warranted.

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Transfer Quality


     Cinematographer Michal Englert has used a shallow depth-of-field, producing a slightly softer image than usual.

     The aspect ratio is 2:35:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

     The film is presented on a 6.68 gb dual-layered DVD, with an average bitrate of 8.37 m/b per sec, which is outstanding for DVD.

     The colour timing is muted and dull in interior scenes, both in Anne's home and in the scenes involving the two prostitutes, but is deliberately more brighter and vivid in other outdoor scenes. The contrast this causes makes the differentiation between the act of prostitution and its effect on those involved with it quite noticeable.

     There is no edge enhancement or digital noise reduction, however there are intentional artefacts which contain macro-blocking and blurriness, to offset some scenes containing nudity.

     Unfortunately, subtitles are not optional. Rather, they are forced or 'burnt-in' in English.

     The RSDL change occurs at 53:22, in-between a scene transition, so it is not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The soundtrack includes classical pieces from Verdi, Beethoven and Wagner which are used to symbolically link in with the themes of the film.

     The main audio track is a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear and synchronised.

     Pawel Mykietyn's original score is mostly understated, except for the classical music interludes.

     The surround channel mix uses ambient effects such as traffic, wind, rain, and the sounds of birds in the park effectively and discretely, in both the front and rear channels.

     The subwoofer supports the musical aspects of the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Theatrical Trailer (1:39)

    The original theatrical trailer.

Palace Films Trailers (8:10)

    Four Palace Films trailers are included for Beauty (1:39), Beloved (2;18), Goodbye First Love (1:54) and King of Devil's Island (2:19).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 United States and Region 2 United Kingdom DVD's are identical to the Region 4 Australian release, with no extras included.


     If you are a fan of Juliette Binoche, then Elles is definitely worth a look, otherwise, I found it to be an interesting look at modern prostitution, but nothing more, unfortunately.

     Elles has a metacritic score of 50 out of 100, with 4 positive reviews, 12 mixed reviews and 1 negative review. Luis Bunuel's masterpiece Belle du Jour, in my opinion, remains the benchmark, the criterion by which other films about this subject matter are judged. And by that hefty standard, Elles remains a valiant attempt which contains some quality acting and little else.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE