By Owen Gleiberman
Updated July 13, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Lila, played by Vahina Giocante, who resembles a sexed-up young Emma Thompson, is a teasing, 16-year-old blond baby doll with a gleam of perception beyond her years. She fixates on Chimo (Mohammed Khouas), a dreamy young Arab, and attempts to seduce him by turning on the slut talk. Ziad Doueiri’s unabashedly erotic cross-cultural love story. Lila Says, is set in Marseilles, and much of it consists of Lila spinning out her reveries — of orgiastic sex, of doing amateur porn films for the thrill of it. Chimo, too chivalrous to take advantage of her, thinks that Lila is ”better” than the naughty-vixen role she has chosen to play. But is that his grace or his puritanism? Both, it turns out, which is why it is also his tragedy.