When I read that Francois Ozon had a new film coming out --Jeune & Jolie, to be released at the end of November-- I was thrilled. Then I saw the full page promo pic (below) and read that the subject was "a French teenager's sexual awakening". I read on into the detail. The French teenager in question is a 16 year old girl (alarm bells starting to ring now) played by stunning French model Marine Vach (oh dear) who loses her virginity while on holiday and then becomes --a prostitute.
Really Francois? I was expecting something a little more original from the director of the fantastic Swimming Pool and Under the Sand. Does he imagine this is the story we have all been waiting for, the one that really blows the lid off female sexuality? Are thousands of women reading about the film over their morning coffee going to nod in recognition: Yes, that's exactly how it was for me too! I lost my virginity to a clumsy German, then slept with men for cash in order to get over the disappointment and find my true self. How refreshing to finally see to it all on the big screen!
Now, I haven't seen the movie yet, and for all I know it is a feminist masterclass on French patriarchy (Ozon has a strong track record on this, so there is still hope). But it got me thinking about the whole question of Who is Telling the Story. And why. I touched on this in my post on Samantha Lewthwaite and The White Man in Africa. In this case I am talking about who tells the story of women and girls. Why do they tell it? What do these stories really say?