Q&A with Ana Girardot

A delicately observed but incisive Bildungsroman that subtly explores the relationship between social class, love, and creativity, High Society marks the return to New York audiences of Julie Lopes Curval, whose Seaside screened in New Directors/New Films in 2002. Through a chance encounter, Alice (Ana Girardot), who comes from a modest Normandy background, finds a patron in Parisian designer Agnès (Aurélia Petit), who helps her with her fashion-school application. Alice’s ambitions set her apart from her friends and arriving in the big city, she comes into the romantic orbit of her mentor’s son, Antoine (Bastien Bouillon), an aspiring artist who seeks to escape his privileged upbringing and is drawn to Alice’s working-class roots. Alice and Antoine begin an intense love affair, but while Antoine’s goals as a photographer are grand, Alice sees her work as utilitarian and her approach to fashion is as a humble tradesperson—attesting, in a classic case of false consciousness, to her unacknowledged belief that beauty, metaphor, and self-expression are the luxuries of a higher social class.