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FAT GIRL/ A MA SOEUR! (NR)
Cowboy Pictures
Official Site
Director: Catherine Breillat
Written by: Catherine Breillat
Cast: AnaÔs Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Libero De Rienzo, Arsinee Khanjian

Rating: out of 5


I have just seen the new French film FAT GIRL and I have a question that I pose to you, the readers. In France, do all of the 13- and 15-year-old girls have deep, introspective conversations about the nature of love and sex, or is that just a ďthis movieĒ kind of thing? Granted, my experience with girls that age is limited to dim memories of my own adolescence, but I seem to remember the girls in my junior high spending a lot of time talking about how ďfineĒ Joey Lawrence was and very little time plumbing the depths of their souls searching for truth in a black abyss of despair. But to hear Catherine Breillat tell it, all junior misses are little Sartres-in-training. Oh well, maybe I went to middle school with a bunch of ninnies. My point is, while a little bit of the movie FAT GIRL rings true to life, there are parts that stretch the boundaries of believability when it comes to female adolescent behavior.

The plot breaks down like this: AnaÔs (Reboux) and her sister Elana (Mesquida) are on vacation with their family in a little coastal town in France. Though sisters, they couldnít be any more different if one grew extra arms. Elana is your typical Lolita-esque sexpot, beautiful and alluring, while AnaÔs is the diametric opposite. Sheís fat, unattractive, and just about everything that her sister is not. Sadly, there really isnít much more of a plot than that. Elana meets an older college guy and they have a rather unpleasant tryst in her bedroom as AnaÔs watches; the vacation ends rather abruptly and they leaveÖ not exactly what one would call electrifying action. The only bit of life in the movie comes during the last minutes of the film. Itís a shockingly violent, somewhat random conclusion that I guess makes sense, but really, itís just one more log of unpleasantness on the already blazing fire.

And thatís really the thing that bothered me the most about the movie: its unrelenting unpleasantness. Now, Iím all for movies being gory or shocking or what have you, but when a film fits those descriptions, usually thereís more to it, plotwise, than just its own utter emptiness. FAT GIRL is one long depressing tailspin of a film and itís all thanks to writer/director Catherine Breillat. I donít know what Breillatís problem is, but judging from FAT GIRL and her previous film ROMANCE, she has some MAJOR unresolved issues regarding sex and sexual behaviors. Both films turn the act of sex from an enjoyable recreational activity into something cold and cruel. All of the men in her world are hurtful, heartless predators. There is nothing that they wonít say to or do for a woman to get her into bed. And the women donít fare much better. All of her female characters are brittle, brooding shells who use sex as a means of self-punishment. It seems to this reviewer that it is Breillatís goal to suck all of the joy and excitement out of one of natureís oldest pastimes. Sadly, I must tip my hat to her for soundly accomplishing that goal.

So, through all of this, is FAT GIRL a good movie? Well, yes and no. Yes, because young Reboux and Mesquida turn in a pair of great performances. Itís amazing that these young people can do so much with a script that amounts to a lot of junior college-level philosophizing. Beyond the two leads, the rest of the movie doesnít hold up. Aiming for deep emotional waters, Breillat ends up stuck in the shallow end, showing us nothing more than a tragically skewed vision of sexual behavior, presented by an auteur sorely in need of some Prozac.

óClint Davis

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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