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Overall Rating
3.94

Awesome: 25.81%
Worth A Look45.16%
Just Average: 25.81%
Pretty Crappy: 3.23%
Sucks: 0%

4 reviews, 7 user ratings


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Fat Girl
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by Robert Flaxman

"Shocking, but very smart."
5 stars

At first, Catherine Breillat seems solely determined to shock with Fat Girl. Her use of sex is both near-ubiquitous and rather graphic, and much of the audience will indeed be shocked by what they see. That is, however, the point. The suggestion behind Fat Girl is that anyone who can yawn at the film's controversial subject matter has bigger problems than just being bored by a film.

Anyone who was ever young and unpopular can relate to 12-year-old Ana´s (Ana´s Reboux), and anyone with siblings can understand her love-hate relationship with her 15-year-old sister Elena (Roxane Mesquida). Elena is slim, pretty, and a boy magnet, while Ana´s is, well, none of those things. As Elena remarks at one point, "No one would think we were sisters."

But they are sisters, and Elena is forced to let Ana´s tag along everywhere, though both would prefer more freedom. Instead, Ana´s learns quite a bit from her sister - probably too much, in fact, as the sleeping arrangements force Ana´s to spend the night pretending Elena and her sort-of boyfriend aren't there.

The strange thing about the relationship between the sisters is that Ana´s appears to be the more mature of the two. Elena supposedly commits all kinds of sexual acts with a variety of men, but seems to hold on to an idealized notion of losing her virginity, while Ana´s declares her determination that her first time be with a man she doesn't love, just to get it out of the way. It's a bit chilling to hear a 12-year-old talk like that, but Ana´s is not your everyday 12-year-old. While Elena lets Fernando (Libero De Rienzo) smooth-talk her into anything and everything, Ana´s sees through him, questioning how Elena could be so na´ve as to accept a ring from him and believe they are engaged. Yet later, when Fernando's mother comes by to get the ring it turns out Fernando had taken from her, Ana´s tries to cover up for her sister. In many ways, Ana´s is the older sibling, frequently questioning the younger's judgment but always there to protect her if things get bad.

The first 75 minutes of Fat Girl feature quite a bit of Elena and Fernando's sexual escapades and perhaps less of Ana´s directly, but they really serve as Ana´s' primer for what to do in the last five minutes of the film. Breillat's resolution feels so crazy that one's first inclination is to scoff, but in fact it makes more than a bit of sense as the payoff to the character Breillat has spent the film developing. It's hardly pleasant, but it doesn't feel untrue.

There seems to be a "men are pigs" message folded into Fat Girl, and certainly the film's three prominent male characters all contribute in some form to the film's somewhat disturbing climax. I would argue that while this seems to stand out, Breillat does not hold her female characters less accountable - everyone looks equally guilty through the eyes of Ana´s, who at one point replies to her mother's chastisement of two litterbugs with a droll, "That's the French for you."

The attack in Fat Girl really seems to be on an overly permissive society which would allow a 12-year-old girl to respond to the film's situations in the way Ana´s does, or simply to have the thoughts she does - the scene in which she swims back and forth in the pool, play-acting with the diving board supports and ladder as her two lovers, is simultaneously hilarious and frightening. Ana´s is having a childhood, talking to inanimate objects as imaginary friends, but her childhood has been corrupted by the issues of adulthood to such an extent that she makes no distinction - and that is, indeed, deeply troubling.

In the end, that's the idea - the way Ana´s acts is supposed to be disturbing, and if you can shrug it off, you're part of the society with which Breillat finds fault. We all remember what it was like to be twelve, but Breillat's suggestion is that the youth of today face a bigger problem of desensitization. Her film is a brilliant depiction of youth's most awkward age, but it's also a smart, wickedly ironic condemnation of an entire generation's loss of innocence.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5577&reviewer=385
originally posted: 10/13/04 01:49:05
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User Comments

3/28/14 PAUL SHORTT DISTURBING LOOK AT FEMALE ADOLESCENCE 2 stars
8/29/09 CTT Certainly memorable 4 stars
12/05/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 4 stars
5/06/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
9/27/05 Alec Johnson Absolutely Fantastic Film. I saw several years ago and loved it. Good Review 5 stars
11/04/04 Rich Strickler graphic and daring...shocking ending 3 stars
12/02/01 Mike Russell This is the most bold, shocking, REAL film I have seen since REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-Oct-2001 (NR)
  DVD: 19-Oct-2004

UK
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