Tuesday, July 26, 2022

THE BEAUTIFUL PERSON (2008): A French Teen Student-Teacher Sexual Affair

The Beautiful Person (2008) [La belle personne] is about a French love triangle between Mr. Jacques Nemours (Louis Garrel) - a lycée [i.e., high school] teacher. Junie (Léa Seydoux) - a 16-year-old transfer student. And Otto - Junie’s boyfriend. 

In addition, Mr. Nemours is having an affair with Marie, a redhead student, whom tells her boyfriend, “I’m not coming with you tonight,” before she arrived, unannounced to Mr. Nemours’ apartment building. 
Mr. Nemours: “Why are you here?”
Marie: “Guess. Can I come up?”

Marie’s teacher doesn’t allow her to “come up” - this time. (Previously, they had teacher-student sex four “quick” times.) However, Mr. Nemours informed Marie that he wanted to end their age-gap affair. 
“Please just leave.”
“You’re ashamed of me. That’s the truth, you’re ashamed.”
“No. I’m not ashamed. I just want our relationship to stop here. I’m breaking it off.”
“Four quick fucks! You call that a relationship?”
“Fine then. You screwed a teacher.”
“Why are you lying to me? Why not say there’s someone else? Who’s next in line?”
But there is someone else. You guessed it. Junie - the new brunette student. Consequently, before Mr. Nemours kissed Marie on the cheek, he said, “Go on. It doesn’t mean we have to be enemies. OK?” To which Marie replied, “[B]ut it’s very painful to leave you, sir.”

Two interesting conversations about age-gap slash teacher-student affairs took place in a café. After noticing that Mr. Nemours was admiring a photograph of Junie, the propriétaire said, “Young girls ought to be respected.” To which Mr. Nemours replied, “Loving them isn’t disrespecting them.” 

And in a conversation between Mr. Nemours and a math teacher, the math teacher warned, “You shouldn’t fool around with students. It’s too easy.” But Mr. Nemours replied that it wasn’t easy, that he was “love-sick” for Junie, but that Junie couldn’t resist loving him too. 

[Note: The math teacher’s stance that it’s “too easy” to “fool around with students” could be misleading, because in the majority of non-fiction and fiction teacher-student relationships, it’s only “too easy” if the student is initially attracted to her teacher. And this attraction is very often attained without any grooming on the part of the teacher, because, we would argue, most teachers don’t have the audacity or know-how to groom a student; however, admittedly, most teachers, to their often ultimate dismay, do not have the ability to resist the allure of a nymphet. Hence, the plethora of age-gap and student-teacher relationships in fiction and non-fiction. Concepción de León wrote in her New York Times review of Art of Love (2022): “And the film reinforces the fiction that it is often younger women [students] who seduce older men [professors] and not the other way around.” But de León has it (mostly) wrong and the film has it (mostly) right. Thus, Mr. Nemours is an anomaly.]
Mr. Nemours said, “It’s not easy with her. You’ve got no idea […] I’m in a total love-sick mess […] I’m just head-over-heels in love […] I know I’ve got to calm down, get a grip, but I can’t. I just can’t […] That girl will never love me. I’m lying to myself. She can’t not love me.”
Mr. Nemours’ pua technique of assumed attraction was correct, because Junie informed Otto that she was “fleeing” the lycée to avoid falling in love [with Mr. Nemours].
“I’m going away to protect myself from someone here. The truth is, I’m fleeing.” 
“Someone you’re in love with?”
“Someone I don’t want to love […] I’m going away not to fall in love. I respect you Otto. I’m telling you that because I care for you.”
“You care for me but love another.”
Subsequently, to appease Otto, Junie let him massage and kiss her bare fountains - behind the lycée. But Otto was determined to find out Junie’s love interest; so, he asked a classmate to be a spy. And the spy discovered and reported to Otto that Junie’s love interest was Mr. Nemours. Consequently, Otto committed suicide. #smh

In the end, Junie informed her “handsome” teacher that she feared having an affair with him, because she couldn’t “survive” if he left her “to love another”.
“If I give myself to you, you’ll go off […] I’m not a fool. You’re handsome. Everyone likes you […] one day, you’ll leave to love another that you will find more pleasing. And I won’t survive. Not to mention the jealousy. “

“It won’t work Junie. You can’t hold out against our love.” 
And knowing that Mr. Nemours was correct about her not being able to resist their teacher-student love, Junie left Paris. 

The Beautiful Person (2008)  was based on the novel La Princesse de Clèves (1678). And Léa Seydoux won the Best Actress category at the Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur and the Female Revelation of the Year Trophée Chopard Award for her role in the award nominated film.

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