Wary What You Wish For
by Jurgen Fauth
What is it about the New York Film Festival and bad sex? After "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Storytelling," "Fat Girl" offers more awkward, unsatisfactory, and exploitative intimacy, this time of the underage variety. But then, what else should you expect from Catherine Breillat, the succès de scandale who brought us that pioneer of on-screen penetration, "Romance?"
Girl" is (no surprise here) about an overweight female adolescent,
pudgy and wise Anais. It is also about her sister Elena, who is not only
older but also considerably slimmer. (the film's French title is "A
Mon Soeur!") The mismatched sisters are at the family's vacation
home on the Atlantic coast, and of course they are looking to lose their
virginity. Elena has the clear advantage, and a suitor is soon at hand
in the tan body of Fernando, an Italian no less, who whispers sweet nothings
in Elena's ears (and initiates said bad sex) while Anais pretends to be
asleep in the next bed. Call it coming-of-age-by-proxy. Breillat's observations
of the vulnerability and cunning of teenage lovers are all dead-on, and
I have to admit to having squirmed at the awkwardness and shameless manipulations
of the Elana's Italian lothario. Breillat tends to let scenes linger...
For most of its running time, "Fat Girl" is a solid coming-of-age flick that intrigues thanks to its lead actresses Anais Reboux and Roxane Mesquida. Both girls brilliantly teeter on the edge between childishness and maturity, and the scenes between the sisters are marked by an utterly believable love-hate relationship. Unfortunatly, Breillat has a shocker of an ending up her sleeve that strikes a fatal blow to the film. While I do recommend seeing "Fat Girl," I would suggest you escape from the theater about ten minutes before the ending and save yourself the story's cynical conclusion. Walk out while Anais sits in the back of the Mercedes and let that image linger.