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aka - Fat Girl
France 2001
Directed by
Catherine Breillat
87 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

A Ma Soeur

Feminist writer-director and sometime actress, Catherine Breillat, places men somewhere in the range between dick-driven oafs, pathological predators and downright sickos. The three male characters in this film are hence variously oafish (a businessman husband), predatory (a young good-looking law student) and murderously violent (a random killer). So forget her representation of men in any real sense as they are effectively cyphers to Breillat’s real subject matter, the female. Here it is in the form of two teenage girls, 15-year old Elena (Roxane Mesquida), an attractive minx, and Anaïs (Anaïs Reboux) her fat 12-year old sister.

Breillat’s themes are sisterhood and sexual discovery and she adopts a low key, episodic approach to the coming-of-age adventures.  She elicits remarkably effective performances from the two girls, as well as Libero De Rienzo as Fernando, the bastard intent on having Elena, and Arsinée Khanjian as the sisters' high-strung what-have-i-done-to-deserve-this? mother.

The film ends on a disturbing note which both reflects Breillat’s rather personal (some would say bitter and twisted) view of (hetero-)sex and her fondness for tendentious provocation.  Even more damaging, it is not particularly well-handled by the director, undermining what would otherwise have been a small scale but telling film.




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