Léa's life consists of pushing through university while taking care of her grandmother and working as a bartender at a nightclub. But because of her grandmother's state she has to get her into a home so that she can focus on the university. But a bigger problem rises when she realizes she doesn't have the funds to keep her grandmother at a home, and slowly goes from bartender at the club - to stripping at the club.
Nothing new under the radar - I'm a fan of French arthouse drama that dwells into more erotic stories. Be it really dark, depressing drama flicks or easier, equally unnerving ones. It doesn't really matter as I just enjoy the darker takes on drama, a genre that is often butchered in Hollywood. Depressing dramas hit me harder than any random French gore film. I knew "Léa" wouldn't be the crème de la crème of depressing drama flicks simply because the plot seemed too typical and uninteresting, but it was another title I wouldn't mind having seen. At the very least it would be another 2011/2012 title I could scratch off the (nonexisting) list.
As expected, Léa is the focus of this film. We're getting a glimpse into a young woman trying to get somewhere in life, but she's stuck. She's stuck between studying for bigger things in university, taking care of her old grandmother and working as a bartender at a nightclub for the economy to work itself out. She's beginning to understand that the biggest problem for her is that she has to spend all her free time taking care of her grandmother, who frequently wanders off in her amnesia. She ends up putting her in a home and in doing that she sets off a motion that leads to her having to go from bartending to stripping to even have the money for said home. She's soon stuck in the life of a stripper, and getting used to it. This quickly steals time from her studies and her loved future plans are getting more and more crushed with every striptease.
The subject is rather typical, and the story doesn't go very far with it, yet it manages to be interesting from start to finish. Léa is very likable, and towards the end when things are going down hill it's easy to get annoyed at her actions. Simply because we've already come to like her. With films like these you can't expect a lot of twists in the story as it's more a look at one person's life in the middle of a crisis. Léa's character represents our youth and the future they have. Choosing your path and working for it is more crucial than ever in a world where free jobs are more rare than fossils. Léa's character comes off as a representation of most sides of the spectrum - at times the decisive, mature one. At other times the desperate, confused one. That's what I got out of the movie that's of any depth, at least.
It's not as erotic as the films by Jean-Claude Brisseau and similar, but because Léa works at a nightclub, and eventually as a stripper, it's easy to figure out what kind of scenes we can expect. There's also an unsimulated scene of cunnilingus that was somewhere between awkward and hot. I think that scene says a lot about the character though. But mostly it's nude/topless stripping that makes this an erotic film, so if you want more pornographic material you should look elsewhere.
No praises sung for "Léa" in this review as I think it's just an above-average drama, but one I don't mind having spent time on still. It's pretty good, but very standard stuff if you've been digging in the genre for a while. Usually they look, act and feel like this film does, and that's not always enough for someone like me. I'm always looking for those films that are a bit more depressing, a bit more awkward. "Léa" works well as a drama simply about a person going through a bit of a rough time. In the end it doesn't leave much impact on the audience.