I just saw one of the most confounding French films I have seen in a long time. i have no idea how to tell you why I found it confounding without revealing to you the entire plot, so
SPOILER ALERT--DO NOT READ IF YOU PLAN ON SEEING THIS MOVIE
Okay--still with me? The movie, Fat Girl, concerns Anais, a thirteen year-old girl (and the fat girl in the title) and her fifteen year-old sister Elena. The movie opens with them talking about sex. Most of the movie is concerned with Elena losing her virginity to a sexy Italian college student. There is a twenty minute scene of groping in Elena's bed alone, while her sister looks on. And it's not particularly sexy--though that's not the point. We are with Elena and Anais as the meet the young man, then when the young man sneaks in (invited) into Elena's bedroom, finally taking her from behind, as she would not give up the front. His arguments are as old as the hills, and as a viewer we want her to resist, though we know she'll succumb. The young man also asks for oral sex. The entire episode is uncomfortable, as it's meant to be. It's made doubly uncomfortable by sight of the young man's erect penis. There is no doubt in this that it is a weapon, and he is following it.
We watch some more tense moments with the girls, Anais the next day being forcefed bread by her sister while crying. We see more of the parents, who seem to just be surly and smoke and nothing more. There is a walk on the beach. There is a conversation between the girls about the nature of thier sisterhood. Is this how French teenagers talk? Elena pulls out a ring that they young man gave her, saying that it was his dead grandmother's and they are engaged. The deed between the young man and the girl is done, after we see him put a condom on his large, very erect penis. (I wonder if they had dick auditions for this as well--can you be really, really hard?) After the initial penetration, we hear him moaning and only see Anais, the younger sister, crying in her bed. Anais states to her sister, as she had at the beginning, that she wants to lose her virginity to someone she doesn't care about. The next day, the young man's mother arrives, saying the ring was hers and he stole it. Much crying. The girls have to leave vacation early with their mother. They stop at a rest stop to rest, and a crazy man beats in a windshield with an axe, kills Elena and strangles the Mother. He rapes Anais in the nearby woods. She looks at him as it's ending without fear or any attachment. When the police find her, she tells them it wasn't rape. And scene.
I suppose I am mostly thrown off by the title "Fat Girl". In French this is called A Ma Souer!, which is To my Sister! or even At My Sister!, which seems more apropos to this particular film. In the end, I was left with the feeling that all intercourse is rape, or at least coercion. IF that's the feeling i was supposed to get, I don't really have a clue how the director thought "Fat Girl" was an appropriate title. Much is made of Anais' weight and eating, but not as much as the xes and the brutality of it. there is one particuarly fascinating and creepy scene in which Anais swims back and forthe between a wooden pole in a pool and the rail of the pool ladder, talking to them like they are jealous lovers and kissing them. I've never seen any other Catherine Breillat's fims; Romance is the only one I know about. She seems to have sexuality as her theme. This is quite an angry film, to me. Skillful, well-acted, but angry, nasty, and uncomfortable. Then again, this is not the first French film with completely disturbing sex, and the French gave it an award for French culture at Cannes. Perhaps they're just more realistic than we are (that's a given). I suppose it's staying with me, but mostly because I was so put off by the ending I'm still figuring out what I think about it. Easy out is my first thought. If you've seen it, please feel free to let me know what you thought.