Saturday, 10 August 2013

Fat Girl

À ma sœur ! is a 2001 French film directed by Catherine Breillat and starring Roxane Mesquida. It was released in some English speaking countries under the alternative titles For My Sister or Fat Girl.

What was the inspiration for “Fat Girl”?

There were two first impressions. One was of a horrible murder that I read about in the paper 20 years ago. During the summer, there was a family that was killed and a little girl left in the woods. The paper said that this little girl had to have sex with the murderer in order to keep her life. It was a very hypocritical way for the paper to tell this story, I thought. Then, I saw a little girl in a swimming pool and she did the exact same thing that I shot. I could not invent something like that. She was a fat girl but very sensual and voluptuous. There was an innocence in her sexuality. She went back and forth in the pool between her two “lovers” and when she got out of the pool, then I realized that she was a child. She was 11-12 and she had such revolt and intelligence in her eyes. I thought that I would put this girl in a movie.

The story is like a sitcom, in fact. A sitcom is what we believe to be similar to real life, but we lie to ourselves to forget things. I wanted to make a sitcom, but a very particular kind of sitcom. It is very funny but it is also very sad when you remember how you were when you were in this situation. “Romance” had some funny moments, like the part when she is in the red dress. I always put very funny situations in my movies but at the end, the audience forgets that there were funny moments! I like that.

At the NY Film Festival's Q&A with Breillat, she expressly forbid seeing "Fat Girl" (as she prefers to call it) as a morality play. She eluded any attempts to draw her into conclusions about her film, insisting that she is not a moralist.

What is clear from the questions she asks, however, is that she views sex with a certain contempt, especially as regards the male role in the act. The men that are in the film are either insensitive, duplicitous or murderous. Breillat's intent is to show how adrift any adolescent girl is when it comes to sexuality and to somehow convey that to an adult audience. She counseled young Anais during filming by saying, "We are making a film that I don't even think you can see when it is done, but it is not for you. It is supposed to scare adults."

a true portrait of some incredibly immature people you can't possibly come to care one bit about, who flop from one impulse or random surface emotion to another, lie to and absent-mindedly manipulate each other, with loads of prurient underage sex that adds nothing to the story, and a supremely lazy ending that i wish like hell i could get out of my memory. if you want to believe the above reviewers who say it's all poignant and intimate and all that, well go right ahead and see it. but when you hate the vicious ending and can't get it out of your head ever and it gives you the creeps every time you think of it, well, i did try to warn you. i've seen a couple of her films (this will be the last ever), and she seems to take a very schizophrenic delight in openly wallowing in the permissive/sordid lives of her characters, only to kill them out of nowhere, ultimately an incredibly dull moralizing prudishness masked as curiosity. maybe this smelled like a big windup to some big revelation to her, but to me it just stunk.

Breillat succeeds in presenting a complex relationship between the two sisters, a love/hate relationship at an age when parents are naturally distanced.  While Elena's taunts are cutting, her character nonetheless remains sympathetic as she chooses to ignore Fernando's motives in light of her own insecurities.  Anais sullenly hides behind her bulk, but her observations, when voiced, are surprisingly mature.  In a well shot scene where the two sisters compare themselves gazing into a mirror, Elena's beautiful features become sharply angular, while a softness shows a hidden beauty in Anais.

As for the controversial ending, the filmmaker both tips off her audience that something dreadful is coming, building suspense with menacing trucks on a rain-slicked highway, and totally surprises when the moment arrives.  Poltergeists and other supernatural disturbances have often been linked to the turbulent emotions of an adolescent.  In "Fat Girl," Anais becomes the "Carrie" of a new generation.
Laura Clifford

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