Fat Girl

2001

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IMDb Rating 6.5 10 9106

Synopsis


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Cast

Roxane Mesquida as Elena Pingot

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by vacax 8 / 10

Being deeply unsatisfying is satisfyingly deep

Most people watch movies in order to enjoy them. Every so often a film comes around that is hard to enjoy, but is undeniably artistic. And I'm not saying the movie isn't good -- I'm saying you're not supposed to leave the movie with feeling satisfied, happy, or particularly having enjoyed it.

I found the relationship between the sisters to be superbly crafted. Despite their differences and constant bickering, they love each other. This is clear. The sisters meet Fernando, who proceeds to seduce 15 year old Elena with every clichéd "you have to have sex with me to prove you love me" technique imaginable. However mind-bogglingly obvious his impure intentions are, Elena falls for it hook, line, and sinker. Though it sounds rather formulaic, I found it intriguing because it really does happen this way so often.

It is interesting how the younger Anais recognizes Fernando's intentions, yet allows her sister to make her own mistakes. Inevitably, it becomes apparent to all that Fernando betrayed Elena in the worst way. The mother responds in what is a rather cold and unsympathetic manner, but in reality this is exactly how any parent would react in the situation.

This is a spoiler-filled review, so I will now tackle the ending without holding back details. I'm sure many people are reading this in order to find out the opinions of others over the shocking and violent final scenes. Most of the parallels that this form explains have already been mentioned in other comments here. Is virginity sacred? Anais and Elena would answer that differently. Nonetheless, the end result is the same for both -- their first mates betray them. Elena believed her virginity was sacred, but was easily seduced and lost it. Even though Anais has a different take on virginity, she is also betrayed, this time by a rapist. You can also ponder the moral quandary of whether or not Elena was raped by her Italian lover. She may as well have been. In fact, it seems that having her heart torn out was more emotionally traumatic than when Anais's virginity was forcibly torn away.

Of course the responsibility for the tragic ending lies solely on the maniac who commits the acts. Yet, situationally speaking every single character (both sisters, both of their parents, Fernando, Fernando's mother) is somehow responsible for putting them in that place at that time.

If you're looking for a deeper meaning in the ending, I believe there is a notable parallel between the narrative and the ending. So many people have said, "the director ran out of ideas" or "it's a gimmick" or "it's just shock value" or just think it doesn't fit the narrative. Many have expressed feelings of cinematic betrayal in the end of the film -- this betrayal mirrors the betrayal of both sisters. The director is like Fernando, seducing us for the entire film, screwing us, then abandoning us. It is so sudden, shocking, and unbecoming that we feel raped... much like the Fat Girl.

The cinematic and artistic values hold true in the ending. You just have to look for it. It is up to personal taste whether this makes for a "good movie" or not.

Reviewed by noralee 9 / 10

Should Be Required Viewing in Sex Ed Classes for Young Teens

"Fat Girl" is unrated so probably will never be shown in sex ed classes for 14-year-old girls willing to read the subtitles of a French film. Too bad.

Written and directed by Catherine Breillat, whose other controversial movies about girls and sex I've somehow missed and will now catch up on, the original title of "A ma soeur!" (to, or maybe colloquially for, my sister) makes a lot more sense.

But not since the very scary "Smooth Talk" have I seen the seduction of a pretty teen-ager by a hunky older guy shown so effectively, as this is a whole lot more explicit and sensually realistic in how they interact in a cagey game of alluring naiveté vs. determined persuasion.

Unlike "American Beauty" whose quasi-pedophilia I found disturbing, this is a sophisticated view of the powerful forces unleashed between a guy young enough to be attracted yet old enough to know better, and a girl old enough to be attracted yet young enough not to know better. Is he the banality of evil, an update of Sportin' Life or the snake -- or is he just being a guy? In class, the teacher could stop the tape in the middle of the dialog and action, and say "Whoa, girls, what could you say when he says that? When he does that? When you feel like that?"

And we watch this all played out in a fascinating way, from the viewpoint of, with devastating impact on, her younger, titular sister who has to endure an up close and personal intimacy with them under the noses of oblivious parents.

While the sibling relationship is the anchor, the ending may be a culminating precautionary statement on a very negative view of the battle of the sexes, but no one walking out of the theater was sure.

The Ontario Film Review Board missed the educational point in censoring the film, but I concur that it's a disturbing film.

Listening to Top 40 radio on the way home sure made me suspicious of all those declarations of love pouring out from all those guys.

Coincidentally, I re-saw the Rohmer film "Pauline on the Beach" hours later on IFC and now see that Breillat is making a dark commentary on that classic, both riffing off a 14-year-old on vacation amidst a sexual whirligig; the French may have a different reaction than me.

(originally written 10/27/2001)

Reviewed by Chris_Docker 8 / 10

A polished film from Breillat on her usual themes of sexuality

Director Breillat is back and, as she did with "Romance", pushing the bounds of censorship in an intellectually challenging fashion. The story follows the sexual development of two sisters in their early teens. Their middle class family embody the usual social mores and protective attitudes. Moreover, the story makes us aware of the legal dilemma of under age sex, undertaken as a matter of conscious choice and with proper protection by the 15-year old (older) sister with a boyfriend only a few years her senior (ie the relationship would be legal in Netherlands but not in many countries, including France). These are two fairly "normal" sisters, although the younger one is excessively overweight and only fantasizes about getting a boyfriend. There is some possible interpretation that the 15-year old's psychological development would progress more soundly were she not (initially) fettered by taboos over her own virginity. In one scene, a TV in the background has a Breillat-type character being interviewed and giving her philosophy about the intrinsic nature of sex, how it is something common to us all and that can be understood by anyone, and that we are all alike inasmuch as no-one is perfect. The characters and scenes are painted brilliantly, the sibling rivalry coupled with intense sisterly bonding, the mother driving at night and, as many people will have, with a lack of sleep and so not as perfectly safely as normal. It is the realism and ordinariness of the situations that keep us on the edge of our seats. The dialogue has the realism that suggests youngsters may have suggested some of the lines, with their observations that have the power to startle us out of complacency. The use of actors so young in fairly explicit scenes will be a matter of great concern, but Breillat is serious about her work and convinces us that she is not pandering to sensationalism but raising valid questions about how we effectively handle the challenges presented by precocious adolescents. The film is more polished than Breillat's earlier work and has an unnerving denouement, well-delivered.

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