Another adaptation of the novel by Choderlos de Laclos? Yes, and this new film directed by Rachel Suissa has had some success on Netflix since it went online on Friday. At the start of the week, it is notably in the top 10 of the most viewed films in France on the platform lately, behind the animated film The Sea Monster and in front of the two shutters of Creed. The reason ? Perhaps because this epistolary novel, adapted many times for the screen (in particular by Stephen Frears, Milos Forman or even Roger Kumble), takes place here in an original and contemporary setting: a high school in Biarritz attended by a very young generation connected.
The pitch? Célène “is preparing to live for some time away from her fiancé, Pierre. Very quickly, she confronts the diabolical elite of her new high school, ruled by the former star of the big screen and queen of Instagram Vanessa (Ella Pellegrini) and the famous surfer Tristan (Simon Rérolle), as dangerous as he is seductive. When she falls in love with him, Célène is far from suspecting that she is at the center of a cruel bet between Tristan and Vanessa. How far will they go? »
In addition to this synopsis which clearly targets Generation Z, the success of these new Dangerous Liaisons can also be explained by the presence of Paola Locatelli who plays the main role of Célène. Because behind this modern version of Cécile Volanges hides a young influencer who has more than 1.8 million subscribers on Instagram.
“Since I was little, I wanted to do this”
Social networks, which are at the heart of this new film, Paola Locatelli knows them very well. This budding actress – Célène is her very first role – made a name for herself at the age of 12 by creating her own channel on YouTube. A dream of a little girl, she explained in 2017, as reported by Closer. “Since I was little, I’ve wanted to do this. Not necessarily on YouTube, but working behind the camera, ”she confided. In her videos, the young girl talks about fashion, her family, her daily life and even the fact that she likes to eat her toenails (to be taken literally, of course). Videos that meet with great success, but which also earned him to be the victim of harassment, which she will also testify on the platform.
At the same time, she also launched herself on Instagram, where in a few years she brought together a large community and was spotted by celebrities – notably Tyra Banks and Rihanna – and the world of luxury. Brands are tearing her up, Puma, of which she becomes the muse, Louis Vuitton or Dior. At 18, Paola Locatelli runs fashion shows and festivals (especially Cannes), Fenty events with Riri and chills in the most beautiful places in the world. What an influencer’s life.
Friends with the small Fabuleuse band, she is close to Sulivan Gwed, Sundy Jules and is one of the models of the young generation. The proof, in 2020 she was even approached by Gabriel Attal, then government spokesperson, in the midst of a pandemic in order to raise awareness in her large community. Its strike force? More than 1.8 million followers on Insta, one million on TikTok, 530,000 subscribers and more than 15 million views on YouTube. Solid. Since 2017, she has also been the godmother of the Aïda association, which supports young cancer patients.
“Everything goes very fast on the networks”
It is in particular thanks to her friend Bilal Hassani, who gave her number to the casting director of the film, that the young woman found herself in this project. In Dangerous relationships, she therefore embodies Célène, a candid high school student who finds herself trapped by an evil and manipulative duo. In this very freely adapted version of the novel, the issues of power are now hidden in a world that could not be more modern, that of social networks. A space as playful as it is superficial where it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between reality and self-staging. “It’s important to put this forward, to remember that networks are not life,” she recently explained to TF1info.fr.
Inevitably, when you are so influential on social networks, a leading role in a film arouses curiosity and attracts crowds to Netflix. But no pressure for the one that the cinema has always dreamed of. “Even if people don’t like my film, it doesn’t matter. Maybe in two days they will have forgotten. Everything is going very quickly on the networks, there is always new information, ”she believes. Muse, influencer, actress… At 18, Paola Locatelli also has plenty of time to bounce back.