An Easy Girl

 

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A film that fails to go beyond the initial enticement of its location.

 
Easy Girl, An

Zahia Dehar and Mina Farid

 

At the very least it has to be acknowledged that the timing is perfect. The months of lockdown mean that the summer of 2020 has been like no other, holidays abroad if not necessarily impossible carry hazards previously unknown and now on the very day that Rebecca Zlotowski's An Easy Girl (Une fille facile) lands on Netflix the British government adds France to the list of countries from which visitors returning to this country have to go into quarantine for fourteen days. How enticing then to have at this moment a film set in Cannes in June, a work that by proxy invites us to participate in life on those beaches that are so celebrated and also on board a yacht run by two rich men who pick up the two girls, cousins, who are the central characters here. It sounds ideal and would be but for the fact that when viewed An Easy Girl proves so feeble.

 

Zlotowski is a French filmmaker and the photography in colour and 'Scope by Georges Lechaptois bathes in the atmosphere of the movie's location so it was rather disappointing to find that on Netflix all of the characters despite being French were speaking in English. The real issue, however, is the film's inability to engage one with its tale. On paper there is potential here as we observe 16-year-old Naïma (Mina Farid well cast even if looking a shade old for the part) and the influence on her of a cousin from Paris, Sofia, who comes to visit Naïma and her mother (Lubna Abidar) at their home in Cannes. The 22-year-old Sofia is played very ably by Zahia Dehar although the casting was controversial for seemingly being based not on acting experience but on her real-life notoriety. It would be possible to suggest that the titular figure is Naïma who acts as the film's narrator since she takes things easily rather than pursuing a goal (a vacation internship that could lead to her becoming a chef is not followed up as if it mattered). More obviously the reference could be to Sofia who is easy in the sense that she sets out to use her glamour and sex appeal to pursue wealthy men such as the two forty-somethings Andreas (Nuno Lopes) and Philippe (Benoît Magimel). They turn up in their yacht 'Winning Streak', invite the cousins to join them and shower them with presents. Sofia, quickly in bed with Andreas, may entice Naïma with her notion that one should seek freedom in life by attaching oneself to the rich but Naïma, still child-like yet having a local boyfriend (Lakhdar Didi) who is gay, remains a hanger-on rather than a participant. But will she choose to imitate Sofia?

 

Ultimately An Easy Girl emerges as a kind of moral tale critical of the high life depicted but, ironically, for most of its length the film is a work that feels indulgent of that life-style. The screenplay could have done so much more to make the film rewarding. Admittedly two scenes are more promising than the rest (one about the girls taking advantage by opting for the most expensive gifts on offer and the other, more sharply written, set in Italy during a boat trip there). But even here there is on the one hand none of the spark or wit of the 1953 film version of that classic gold-digger tale Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and on the other hand none of the philosophical depth that can be characteristic of dialogue in certain French films. A quote at the outset from Pascal suggests a desire to follow in the footsteps of Eric Rohmer, but to compare his work with this only underlines the extent to which An Easy Girl indulges the surface at the expense of any real depth or profundity. So, yes, the setting doesn't disappoint but almost everything else does.

 

Original title: Une fille facile.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Mina Farid, Zahia Dehar, Benoît Magimel, Nuno Lopes, Clotilde Courau, Loubna Abidar, Lakhdar Dridi, Henri-Noël Tabary, Cédric Appietto, Mickaël Migliorini, Mathias Ben Hamou, Lise Lomi.

 

Dir Rebecca Zlotowski, Pro Frédéric Jouve, Screenplay Rebecca Zlotowski with Teddy Lussi-Modeste, Ph Georges Lechaptois, Pro Des Rozenn Le Gloahec, Ed Géraldine Mangenot, Costumes Isabelle Kerbec.

 

Les Films Velvet/France 3 Cinéma/Canal+/France Télévisions/Indéfilms 7-Netflix.
92 mins. France. 2019. Rel: 13 August 2020. Available on Netflix. Cert. 15.