Fat Girl (Dir: Catherine Breillat, 2001)

Country of Origin:
Running Time: 86 min

“Á Ma Soeur!” released in America as “Fat Girl”
Written and Directed by: Catherine Breillat
Released: March 7, 2001
Original Format: 35mm, interpositiveCatherine Breillat, or “the bad girl intellectual of French film” as Amy Taubin of “The Village Voice” once wrote, is well known and widely criticized for her sexually explicit, often extremely graphic films and Fat Girl is no different. Fat Girl follows the lives of two sisters while on vacation in France, Elena, the beautiful older sister who is described as reeking of “loose morals” according to her sister, the “fat lump” Anaïs. The film starts out with them discussing the loss of virginity. Elena, like most fifteen-year-old girls, hopes to lose her virginity to her first true, reciprocated love. Anaïs, twelve, laughs at her and says that she wishes to give herself to “nobody”, that way when she does fall in love she can be “broken in”. She does not want anybody to say they had her first. This opening interaction not only demonstrates their conflicting values, but also sets the tone for their relationship throughout the film.

Soon after this conversation the sisters meet Fernando, an Italian student also on vacation, and Elena is almost immediately infatuated. As their relationship develops, Fernando and Elena have midnight rendezvous’ in her room, which she shares with her younger sister. Fernando aggressively seduces her, and she actively objects while Anaïs is awoken and forced to listen to them fight. Eventually he overwhelms Elena with protestations of love and affection, and they have sex while her sister weeps silently. Although Elena is convinced that they will be married, soon things go terribly wrong and their vacation is cut short when her mother finds out that she accepted a gift that Fernando had no right to give.
After an increasingly suspenseful car ride, the film ends shockingly with a tragic turn of events. This film touches on many themes, not only of sexuality and the loss of virginity but also sibling rivalry and relationships, as well as maturity and consent. Although it may be difficult to suggest showing it in an academic setting due to explicit and fairly disturbing content, Fat Girl should not be dismissed as it addresses important and provocative issues worth discussing.

For more information on Catherine Breillat, refer to the following interview conducted by Peter Sobczynski after the release of “Fat Girl”: