Fat Girl


1h 23m 2001

Brief Synopsis

Elena is fifteen years old and forced to drag along pudgy twelve-year-old Anais as she trolls for boys in the cafes of a seaside resort where their family is vacationing. Treating Anais with casual cruelty, Elena smooches a handsome young Italian as her sister gorges on a banana split and later, in their shared bedroom, commands her to sleep as the older Fernando climbs in through the window. As Elena is deflowered, Anais writhes in fascination, envy and her own budding desire. When Elena's transgression is revealed, their furious mother breaks off the holiday The summer vacation is over but, as they discover on a tension-filled journey home, the family adventure is not.

Film Details

Also Known As
For My Sister, Ma Soeur!, Mia Sorella!, A, Story of a Whale
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Foreign
Release Date
2001
Production Company
Arte; Arte France Cinéma; Cb Films (France); Centre National Du Cinema; Flach Film; Pyramide Films; StudioCanal
Distribution Company
Cowboy Pictures; Agora Films (Switzerland); Cinema Mondo; Cowboy Pictures; Eye International; Metro Tartan Distributors; Rezo Films; Salzgeber & Co. Medien Gmbh
Location
Charente-Maritime, France; Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m

Synopsis

Elena is a gorgeous fifteen-year-old forced to drag along pudgy twelve-year-old Anais as she trolls for boys in the cafes of a seaside resort where their family is vacationing. Treating Anais with casual cruelty, Elena smooches a handsome young Italian as her sister gorges on a banana split and later, in their shared bedroom, commands her to sleep as the twentysomething Fernando climbs in through the window. As Elena is deflowered, Anais writhes in fascination, envy and her own budding desire. When Elena's transgression is revealed to their parents, their furious mother breaks off the holiday and embarks on the long drive home with the girls in the back seat. The summer vacation is over but, as they discover on a tension-filled journey home, the family adventure is not.

Film Details

Also Known As
For My Sister, Ma Soeur!, Mia Sorella!, A, Story of a Whale
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Foreign
Release Date
2001
Production Company
Arte; Arte France Cinéma; Cb Films (France); Centre National Du Cinema; Flach Film; Pyramide Films; StudioCanal
Distribution Company
Cowboy Pictures; Agora Films (Switzerland); Cinema Mondo; Cowboy Pictures; Eye International; Metro Tartan Distributors; Rezo Films; Salzgeber & Co. Medien Gmbh
Location
Charente-Maritime, France; Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 23m

Articles

The Fat Girl


While on a country holiday with their parents, 15-year-old Elena (Roxane Mesquida) and 12-year-old, overweight Anaïs (Anaïs Reboux) pass the time idly talking about finding boys to strike up a summer romance. While on a family outing, Elena hooks up with older law student Fernando (Libero De Rienzo), who steals all of Elena's attention away from her sister. Fernando even cajoles her into having sex while Anaïs lies awake in the same room; though Elena believes she is falling in love with Fernando after giving up her virginity, a nasty surprise awaits after he offers up an engagement ring. Things take an even more drastic turn for the worse at the vacation's end when the girls and their mother undertake one of the nastiest road trips this side of an Italian exploitation film.

After the controversial "anti-porn film" Romance, director Catherine Breillat confounded skeptics by returning to the territory of troubled female adolescence explored in her earliest work like 36 fillette and A Real Young Girl. Though technically less explicit than its predecessor, Fat Girl (á Ma Soeur!) is an even darker and more upsetting film as it explores the murky terrain of budding womanhood from two different, equally destructive vantage points. While Elena's vulnerability may be a subject already well covered by made-for-TV films and countless psychological manuals, the dangerous combination of fantasy, delusion and carnal longing within Anaïs is certainly a cinematic first. The sex scenes are intense and fairly explicit, though they don't really tip over the border into hardcore like Romance; significantly, Breillat had so many performance problems with De Rienzo (including the use of a certain prosthetic enhancement) that she later channeled her frustration into the much lighter Sex Is Comedy, which would make an ideal second feature.

For many viewers the harsh, slasher-style ending comes out of left field, though the vicious, bleak tone it imposes on the rest of the film in retrospect is essential to understanding Breillat's modus operandi. (One has to wonder whether the makers of Haute tension saw this before starting their own cinematic venture.) How successful she was in the end will be a matter of taste; it's not an easy film to watch, much less like, but it certainly leaves its mark and is essential viewing for devotees of both provocative art house fare and twisted sleaze. Significantly, the final act proved too much for British censors who completely excised the vital penultimate sequence from the film, rendering its final moments completely incoherent. Fortunately the earlier British DVD is rendered obsolete by Criterion's disc, which once again fearlessly presents a film most distributors would rather not touch.

The anamorphic transfer and subtitles on the Criterion disc are all top notch as usual; considering this film was swallowed up in the bankruptcy of its American distributor, Cowboy, one has to be grateful it's seen the light of day again at all. The Dolby Digital track can be played in 5.1 or two-channel stereo; there's not much difference until the last fifteen minutes when the former really comes into play.

Extras include a five-minute behind-the-scenes featurette combining raw set footage with Breillat's comments, an 11-minute Breillat interview shot for European television in which she discusses her intentions for the film and her views as a director, the French and U.S. trailers, and a new Breillat interview, running 9 minutes, in which she discusses an alternate ending (basically the same scene transferred to a doctor's office) and her views on the film from a greater vantage point of a few years down the line. An insert booklet contains an essay by Ginette Vincendeau and a Breillat interview, as well as a note from the director on the story behind the film's wildly different French and English titles (she prefers the latter).

For more information about The Fat Girl, visit Criterion Collection. To order The Fat Girl, go to TCM Shopping.

by Nathaniel Thompson
The Fat Girl

The Fat Girl

While on a country holiday with their parents, 15-year-old Elena (Roxane Mesquida) and 12-year-old, overweight Anaïs (Anaïs Reboux) pass the time idly talking about finding boys to strike up a summer romance. While on a family outing, Elena hooks up with older law student Fernando (Libero De Rienzo), who steals all of Elena's attention away from her sister. Fernando even cajoles her into having sex while Anaïs lies awake in the same room; though Elena believes she is falling in love with Fernando after giving up her virginity, a nasty surprise awaits after he offers up an engagement ring. Things take an even more drastic turn for the worse at the vacation's end when the girls and their mother undertake one of the nastiest road trips this side of an Italian exploitation film. After the controversial "anti-porn film" Romance, director Catherine Breillat confounded skeptics by returning to the territory of troubled female adolescence explored in her earliest work like 36 fillette and A Real Young Girl. Though technically less explicit than its predecessor, Fat Girl (á Ma Soeur!) is an even darker and more upsetting film as it explores the murky terrain of budding womanhood from two different, equally destructive vantage points. While Elena's vulnerability may be a subject already well covered by made-for-TV films and countless psychological manuals, the dangerous combination of fantasy, delusion and carnal longing within Anaïs is certainly a cinematic first. The sex scenes are intense and fairly explicit, though they don't really tip over the border into hardcore like Romance; significantly, Breillat had so many performance problems with De Rienzo (including the use of a certain prosthetic enhancement) that she later channeled her frustration into the much lighter Sex Is Comedy, which would make an ideal second feature. For many viewers the harsh, slasher-style ending comes out of left field, though the vicious, bleak tone it imposes on the rest of the film in retrospect is essential to understanding Breillat's modus operandi. (One has to wonder whether the makers of Haute tension saw this before starting their own cinematic venture.) How successful she was in the end will be a matter of taste; it's not an easy film to watch, much less like, but it certainly leaves its mark and is essential viewing for devotees of both provocative art house fare and twisted sleaze. Significantly, the final act proved too much for British censors who completely excised the vital penultimate sequence from the film, rendering its final moments completely incoherent. Fortunately the earlier British DVD is rendered obsolete by Criterion's disc, which once again fearlessly presents a film most distributors would rather not touch. The anamorphic transfer and subtitles on the Criterion disc are all top notch as usual; considering this film was swallowed up in the bankruptcy of its American distributor, Cowboy, one has to be grateful it's seen the light of day again at all. The Dolby Digital track can be played in 5.1 or two-channel stereo; there's not much difference until the last fifteen minutes when the former really comes into play. Extras include a five-minute behind-the-scenes featurette combining raw set footage with Breillat's comments, an 11-minute Breillat interview shot for European television in which she discusses her intentions for the film and her views as a director, the French and U.S. trailers, and a new Breillat interview, running 9 minutes, in which she discusses an alternate ending (basically the same scene transferred to a doctor's office) and her views on the film from a greater vantage point of a few years down the line. An insert booklet contains an essay by Ginette Vincendeau and a Breillat interview, as well as a note from the director on the story behind the film's wildly different French and English titles (she prefers the latter). For more information about The Fat Girl, visit Criterion Collection. To order The Fat Girl, go to TCM Shopping. by Nathaniel Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the Golden Hugo award for Best Film at the 2001 Chicago International Film Festival.

Winner of the LVT/Manfred Salzgeber Prize at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival.

Released in United States 2001

Released in United States August 2001

Released in United States Fall October 10, 2001

Released in United States February 2001

Released in United States October 2001

Released in United States October 26, 2001

Released in United States on Video October 19, 2004

Released in United States September 2001

Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (in competition) February 7-18, 2001.

Shown at Chicago International Film Festival (in competition) October 4-18, 2001.

Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival (Eyes of the World) August 12-26, 2001.

Shown at Montreal World Film Festival August 23 - September 3, 2001.

Shown at New York Film Festival September 28 - October 14, 2001.

Shown at Telluride Film Festival (A Tribute to Catherine Breillat) August 31 - September 3, 2001.

Shown at Toronto International Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema) September 6-15, 2001.

Began shooting March 23, 2000.

Completed shooting May 5, 2000.

Cowboy Booking is distributing this film as part of a co-acquisition venture with Antidote Films under the banner Code Red.

November 20, 2001: the Ontario Film Review Board banned "Fat Girl" in the province by refusing to rate the film and therefore preventing the film from being theatrically released in Toronto and Ottawa. The board cited several scenes containing teenage nudity and sexual interaction.

Released in United States 2001 (Shown at Montreal World Film Festival August 23 - September 3, 2001.)

Released in United States 2001 (Shown at New York Film Festival September 28 - October 14, 2001.)

Released in United States 2001 (Shown at Telluride Film Festival (A Tribute to Catherine Breillat) August 31 - September 3, 2001.)

Released in United States February 2001 (Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (in competition) February 7-18, 2001.)

Released in United States August 2001 (Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival (Eyes of the World) August 12-26, 2001.)

Released in United States September 2001 (Shown at Toronto International Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema) September 6-15, 2001.)

Released in United States October 2001 (Shown at Chicago International Film Festival (in competition) October 4-18, 2001.)

Released in United States Fall October 10, 2001 (NY)

Released in United States on Video October 19, 2004

Released in United States October 26, 2001 (Los Angeles)