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Sex and violence mean one thing in Hollywood, quite another overseas. At least that's the conclusion our critic Bob Mondello reached after watching two new foreign films. One is a French film titles "Jeune et Jolie," which means "Young and Pretty." The other is a thriller called "The German Doctor" but it hails from Argentina.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: The year is 1960. And at a rest stop on an Argentine highway, a Jewish girl named Lilith is speaking with a darkly handsome stranger. A doll has fallen from her car, a doll her dad made. As the stranger hands it back, she says...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE GERMAN DOCTOR")

FLORENCIA BADO: (as Lilith) (Foreign language spoken)

MONDELLO: Guess how old I am.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE GERMAN DOCTOR")

ALEX BRENDEMUEHL: (as German Doctor) (Foreign language spoken)

MONDELLO: He guesses nine.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE GERMAN DOCTOR")

BADO: (as Lilith) (Foreign language spoken)

BRENDEMUEHL: (as German Doctor) (Foreign language spoken)

MONDELLO: But she's 12, a fact she later recalls he notes in his notebook.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE GERMAN DOCTOR")

BADO: (as Lilith) (Foreign language spoken)

MONDELLO: The first time we met, he thought I was a perfect specimen except for my height. Specimen. The stranger is a German doctor, a new arrival in Argentina, who needs a place to stay, which makes him a good fit for this family. They've inherited a lakeside inn. He'll be their first guest, sharing dinner with them and answering their questions about his work, which is in genetics, he tells them, growth hormones, cattle. Find the right genetic triggers, and you can improve the race.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE GERMAN DOCTOR")

BRENDEMUEHL: (as German Doctor) (Foreign language spoken)

MONDELLO: Dad finds this doctor unsettling, his offers of hormones to help Lilith grow taller, his interest in the family's soon-to-be-born twins, even his help in finding a factory to mass-produce dolls like the one that Lilith dropped that day they met.

And director Lucia Puenzo knows she can make us unsettled, too, since we know a little something about high-profile Germans who sought refuge in Argentina after World War II. And that knowledge haunts a scene where doctor, dad and Lilith visit the doll factory and watch workers combine heads, torsos, limbs to manufacture a race of perfect, superior dolls.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONDELLO: The film takes its time, accumulating evidence, building dread, alarming us with a seeming normalcy that we're increasingly sure is anything but normal. "The German Doctor" is never showy or melodramatic, just a kind of true-life horror story about the helpful, soft-spoken monster in our midst.

The film "Young and Beautiful," begins on the French Riviera a half-century later, focusing on another adolescent, Isabelle who, like Lilith, is about to lose her innocence, more deliberately though. In this first of four seasons the film will chronicle, she spots the boy she wants to lose her innocence too, and he's happy to oblige. Though from her disappointed expressions and her tears at her 17th birthday party the next day, it's clear that her summer deflowering has left her cold.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL")

MONDELLO: Just how cold we'll discover a few months later in the fall, when we spot her, not with high school friends, but looking very grown-up in crisp suit and spike heels, entering a hotel suite where a middle-aged man awaits.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL")

(SOUNDBITE OF KNOCKING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

MONDELLO: Isabelle's classmates may still be experimenting with the birds and the bees, but she has graduated to full-on prostitution.

Filmmaker Francois Ozon is a young writer/director known for provocative work with mature stars. Kristin Scott Thomas was in his last picture, Catherine Deneuve in the one before that. And in "Young and Beautiful," he establishes that you don't have to be young to be beautiful by having a still stunning Charlotte Rampling shows up for 10 minutes, establishing you don't have to young to be beautiful.

But it's Ozon's work with Vacth that makes this picture effective. Under his tutelage, in her first substantial role, she is persuasively adolescent at the outset, distressingly jaded at the finale, and in between, capable of making young-and-beautiful sex seem as perhaps only the French can, ravishing, sensual and utterly unsatisfying all at once.

I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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