Laura is a 19-year-old university freshman who desperately wants to do well in school. She works a part-time job but cannot make ends meet. One evening in which she is short of funds, she answers a personal ad online by "Joe," 57, who seeks a female student for "tender moments." The pay is 100 euros per hour. Laura pledges to do this just once, and three days later, she goes to a hotel room with Joe. And then her spiral begins.
Runtime: 101 minutes
Release Date 2010-01-18
I generally enjoyed this film - based on the 'true/shocking' revelations of a (French) female university student who turned to the world's oldest profession to help finance her way thru school. It is, perhaps, the 'expose' angle of the movie that slants the general tenor of the piece towards a negative vibe - as the viewer is introduced to the story's lead character, Laura, and follows her down a path of personal denigration as she barters her youthful body for some spending cash & millennial trinkets. The 'shock value' of the source book from which the screenplay was derived is based on the (purported) 'epidemic' levels of prostitution engaged in by female college students to make ends meet - so it is not surprising that the director has seemingly gone out of their way to make sure that the sexual 'pay for play' activities of the film's star are not made to look 'enjoyable'. In this, at least, they have managed to succeed! The lead actress, Deborah Francois, IS lovely - in just the right way to provide a vulnerable heroine for the sordid tale... and she sure doesn't appear to like what she's doing in the sexual realm - so much so - that after a while I found the plot to become rather disingenuous and dis-engaging. Despite many scenes where Ms Francois fully reveals her attractive body and participates in sexual congress with a variety of sorta 'flawed' male individuals - there is nothing arousing about any of it. Could the girl be any more 'bored' & repulsed?! It really makes one wonder why her one repeat customer 'Joe' keeps coming back for more... or why she sticks it out for as long as she does. Without treading into the politically/morally dicey territory surrounding the whole issue of prostitution - I felt that this film presents a sort of mono-dimensional and moralistic take on the situation. Some reviewers compare 'Student Services' to the likes of "Pretty Woman" and extol its' virtues for presenting a more 'realistic' portrayal of the disagreeable aspects of prostitution - personally I might suggest that a more relevant comparison could be to the cable TV series "Diary of A Call Girl" based on the 'true' adventures of London escort (AND student!) Belle de Jour. 'Belle' also exhibits a 'conflicted' character in trying to reconcile the two sides of her life in the face of society's general disdain for sex workers - but she, at least, takes 'some' pleasure in her craft, and on occasion even finds her sexual skills to be of 'service' in helping individuals overcome personal problems. Admittedly, the 'clients' that Laura encounters in "Student Services" are portrayed as a particularly loutish lot - but 'where's the love'?! Ultimately I began to sympathize w/ her self loathing and sorta lost interest in the 'story' - such as it was. There are obviously 'bigger issues' of youth poverty and socioeconomic inequality at play - but none of them get meaningfully addressed/answered in this film. On a strictly prurient level - worth a look for the fetching form of Ms Francois in the buff - but nothing to get too excited about.