The point the film seems to be making is that Charlotte and Alicja are working part-time jobs, just like lots of other college kids, and is satisfying men’s sexual desires really that different than babysitting or flipping burgers? Szumowska parallels Anne’s resentful preparation of a fancy dinner for her husband’s boss and his wife with Charlotte’s submission to a rough client. We all gotta do what we gotta do to earn a paycheck, the film suggests. No job is perfect. By that brutal capitalist logic, being a wife at least offers better benefits — sick leave, vacation, and a retirement plan. If Charlotte or Alicja don’t feel well and stay home from work, their clients are not going to pay or bring them soup in bed.
Binoche gives her usual strong performance and looks lovely as ever, even in some undignified scenes, but the film doesn’t rise to her level. The questions the director poses aren’t original, the characters aren’t deeply drawn, and the primary reason anyone will see “Elles” is for the sex. But that’s what the business is all about, isn’t it?