French film-maker and Cannes favourite Francois Ozon’s Jeune et Jolie, translated as Young and Beautiful, was the opening film of day two of the festival.
The film, which is in competition, stars the impossibly beautiful Marine Vacth as a 17-year-old who experiences her sexual awakening and her search for her identity over the course of four seasons, each marked by a French torch song interlude.
Seduced by the easy money and new experiences, she becomes a teenage prostitute, working behind the backs of her middle-class Parisian parents.
The film is enjoyable and was warmly received but Vacth, undeniably a magnetic screen presence, is almost a contrived caricature of the sullen poetic French teen, chain-smoking Gauloises.
While not every melancholic teen will nose-dive into prostitution, it all felt a little bit familiar.
Less successful in its execution was The Bling Ring, the new film from Sofia Coppola, based on the true story of a gang of LA teens who begin burgling the houses of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.
The film, which is opening the Un Certain Regard strand of the festival, stars Emma Watson in a role far removed from her Harry Potter roots.
As paper thin as its plot suggests, the film doesn’t really get underneath the reasons for the robberies, other than the now oft-trodden path that obsession with celebrity is ultimately unfulfilling.
When Paris Hilton herself makes brief cameo, it just feels weird, criticised as she is – almost more so than the wayward teens – for her over-abundance of “stuff”.
A few cliches – the hippy new age mum and some vaguely absent parents – offer little by way of explanation or justification for their crimes.
It is no revelation that teenagers constantly bombarded by images of a rich lifestyle which they aspire to but rarely achieve will want to take rather than earn.
Maybe the film’s superficiality is the point. It is shiny and loud but has little to offer beyond its sparkle.
Tackling roughly the same subject in a completely different take and discipline, Yannick Oho – a young film-maker from London – has been screening his documentary about the summer riots in London two years ago.
When Tottenham Exploded combines dance, poetry and interviews and has already been honoured with an award from the London Independent Film Festival.