Anaïs is twelve and bears the weight of the world on her shoulders. She watches her older sister, Elena, whom she both loves and hates. Elena is fifteen and devilishly beautiful. Neither more futile, nor more stupid than her younger sister, she cannot understand that she is merely an object of desire. And, as such, she can only be taken. Or had. Indeed, this is the subject: a girl's loss of virginity. And, that summer, it opens a door to tragedy.
Oddly titled 'Fat Girl' for international release, the ambiguity of the original French title of this Catherine Breillat movie is quite important as the film is equally about two sisters: one conventionally pretty and the other slightly overweight. Roxane Mesquida and Anaïs Reboux share excellent chemistry in the respective roles as a family vacation affords them a chance to indulge in their emerging sexual appetites. At times, the girls are highly competitive with Mesquida expressing contempt for the younger Reboux to look cool in front of an Italian law student they befriend; at other times though, the sisters laugh together and share intimate secrets like lifelong best friends. Some have been critical of the explicit sexual scenes here, however, Breillat keeps them minimal and a distance; indeed, in the moments when Mesquida is intimate with her newfound boyfriend, we hear everything but see nearly nothing as the camera focuses on Reboux's face, pretending to be asleep in the hotel room she shares with her sister. If there is something to hold against the film, it is the meandering second half with a lot of lengthy drives taking up much of the screen time with tension evaporating once Mesquida has gone all the way. An unexpected plot turn in the final ten minutes of the film does, however, ensure that the movie ends on a thought-provoking (if not necessarily satisfying) final note.
Reviewed by gbill-748774 / 10
Unpleasant and unkind
What an unpleasant film this turned out to be. To start with, I hate the (ok, English) title in light of the film not exploring the issues around body image for a young woman in any meaningful way, and I hate the stereotype of the titular character regularly stuffing her face with food. All of the other family members are so cruel to this poor girl, but she's mostly in the background, which is kind of a shame. I wish it had more scenes like the one of her in the pool, going between one imaginary lover and another.
The story instead revolves around her sister (age 15) being taken advantage of by a college boy she meets on vacation, starting with being manipulated into anal sex with her little sister in the room. I wish I could say that's the worst moment the film gives us, but it's not. I liked how it showed the young girl's perspective as she struggles to say no but at the same time, feels like doing so will make her lose him, but this scene (and others) were unnecessarily excessive, and went on far longer than necessary. There's simply not enough intelligence or nuance here. There's an obvious parallel between what happens at the end and how the boyfriend behaved, but good lord, it has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It's also criminal that Breillat chose to cast an actual 13-year-old for the part. And in an extra bit of sickness, do we see a glimmer in the character actually having gotten what she wanted? For a film that seems to have feminist intentions, it's not particularly kind to women, which is a shame.
Reviewed by jotix1001 / 10
Going on a crash diet
Catherine Breillat, the director of this film, knows how to provoke an audience with her risky themes. "A ma soeur" is a more disturbing film than the other director's movies, which we have enjoyed. Miss Breillat presents us an overweight teen ager who shows signs of low self esteem. To make matters worse, her sister, who is an attractive and slim girl, shows a cruel strain toward her sibling.
We find the two sisters during a summer vacation. The two girls are so different that logically, we feel bad for the poor fat sister, who obviously, is at a disadvantage. The pretty sister has no problems attracting boys; she has no problems taking the one she likes to bed, while her sister listens to all what's going on in the room. This is cruelty beyond imagination.
Miss Breillat shows courage in presenting this thorny account about sexual awakening. The only thing that feels out of place is the long sequence at the end of the film, which comes out of nowhere and leaves the audience stunned, as proved by the people that flocked to read the review posted on the lobby of the Lincoln Plaza cinemas, as many viewers obviously had trouble understanding the film.
Those last minutes of the film seem endless and proved nothing more than perhaps a director who ran out of ideas and didn't know where to take the story, therefore the ending that will disappoint even those avid Breillat's fans.