After collecting numerous accolades and the award for Best New Narrative Filmmaker at the 2010 Tribeca film festival for Dog Pound, French director Kim Chapiron turns his attention to the less gritty world of France’s elite business schools. Chapiron has replaced the Correctional Facility in Montana with the claustrophobic atmosphere of a student campus and keeps three actors in the lead roles, but La Crème de La Crème is worlds away from Dog Pound‘s unflinching honesty. It’s a French take on an American film style that sits at odds with the reality of the pressure-cooker, high-achieving atmosphere of French business schools. Ultimately, it’s an uneven, cliche-ridden film with a vein of cynicism that makes for dispiriting viewing.
Dan (Thomas Blumenthal), Kelly (Alice Isaaz) and Louis (Jean-Baptiste Lafarge) are students at an elite business school in France, loosely based on the HEC in Paris, reputedly Europe’s top business school. Dan, the intellectual, geeky one; Kelly, the poor kid from the suburbs and Louis, the rich kid looking for diversion, decide to create a prostitution ring for the school’s students. Kelly recruits badly-paid, attractive woman who eagerly embrace prostitution as a viable career alternative while Dan and Louis deal with the demand side of the business. As business booms, the relationship between the three entrepreneurs begins to change.
Chapiron is not the only director to recently tackle the subject of female prostitution. In line with Francois Ozon’s Jeune et Jolie, La Crème de La Crème
presents a sanitised view of prostitution which is far removed from the reality of selling your body for sex. Chapiron shows a simplified world where attractive woman who work in low-paid, menial jobs are faced with a bleak choice – stay poor and undervalued or use your beauty to change your life. Surprisingly it is Kelly, the student who has reaped the rewards of hard work and study, that exploits other women. According to Chapiron, it’s so much easier for men. As Louis explains to Dan, a man’s stockmarket value increases as he grows older and earns more money, while an attractive woman’s value falls as her beauty fades with age. Do young people today really think like this or did the feminist movement, like the Chernobyl nuclear cloud, mysteriously stop at the French border?
After Dog Pound, Chapiron was hailed as one of a new generation of thirty-something directors ready to take French cinema in a different direction. On the basis of La Crème de La Crème this is backwards rather than forwards. In French cinemas: 2/04/2014
DIRECTOR’S BIO – KIM CHAPIRON