Director: Catherine Breillat
Stars: Anaïs Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Libero De Rienzo
Fat is fabulous!
Sex-obsessed director, Catherine Breillat has only gone and done another film about sex! Well, actually Fat Girl is over a decade old now so she’s done a few more sex-related films which I’m yet to see. In fact, Fat Girl is my very first taste of Catherine Breillat and I’ll definitely be tucking in for more if they’re all as tasty as this one. For those who don’t know, Fat Girl tells the story of a chubby 12 year-old gal and her sexy fifteen year-old sister who may as well be called Lolita.
The film is pretty short and simplistic but it definitely leaves a lasting impression. I suspect that most people would find it boring because the scenes are extremely long and drawn out. The longest bit must be the extended foreplay scene in which Lolita and her fancy man are on the verge of doing the dirty deed. Not one moment of the film bored me though. I found myself sucked into its atmosphere of stark realism and drawn to the engaging characters.
I was also really impressed with the young actors. Anaïs Reboux who plays the fat girl in question was particularly enthralling. It’s important to bear in mind that she was only twelve years-old at the time of filming and it’s a fairly challenging role to play which deals with adolescence, sexuality and sibling rivalry. There’s a lovely tender moment between the two siblings where they lay on the bed and joke together. It feels very genuine and just goes to show how brilliant the two actresses are and how realised their characters are.
The film builds up to an awkward car journey which ends in a genuinely unexpected and shocking way. Many people have condemned the ending for being shocking for the sake of it; however I don’t think that’s true. If you pay attention to the first 70 minutes you’ll spot a lot of foreshadowing and find that it actually has a lot of meaning which is important to the overall story. I think it’s just the sudden change in tone which people find jarring and off-putting. I’m all for unpredictability though.
Quite a lot of people also complain that the film is basically child pornography masquerading as art. The BBFC even cut the DVD release of the film “relating to potential harm, to address the specific danger that video enables the scene to be used to stimulate and validate abusive action.” I’d disagree. The scene in question isn’t gratuitous (I watched the uncut Australian version) and in my unprofessional opinion isn’t harmful or erotic to the rational human mind. It’s also very important to the themes of the story.
Prudes should also note that the sexy sister was actually eighteen years-old at the time of filming and that the erect penis is actually prosthetic! It is a graphic film, but it is also a film all about sex and sex does tend be to be graphic. I’m not sure why people get so disgusted about graphic sex scenes in films. We all have sex in real life so why is watching it on a screen so repulsive? Anywho, Fat Girl is not a porn film. It is an interesting story about sexual awakening. It’s beautifully acted and directed, and also has a wonderfully immersive atmosphere. I’d particularly recommend it to fans of the new French extremity and European art films.