January 01, 2017


Fat-girlIn 2001, at the height of her powers, writer-director Catherine Breillat created a trenchant social study of familial and social prejudice set in the context of a wealthy French family whose unevenly matched female siblings vie for various rights of sexual passage.

Originally entitled “A Ma Soeur!” (“To My Sister”) the film’s inappropriate English title “Fat Girl” does this movie an injustice. This clear public relations attempt at inciting controversy with a derogatory term cheapens Breillat’s bold dramatic statements regarding budding female sexuality in the modern world, and feminist ideals at large.

Anais Reboux plays the Rubenesque pre-teen of the film’s title. Anais is the younger (12-year-old) sister to Elena (Roxane Mesquida), who at the age of 15 is ready to do away with her virginity. A family vacation at an estate by the ocean delivers a seemingly ideal solution to Elena’s plight in the form of Fernando (Libero de Rienzo), a wealthy twentysomething Italian law student whose list of conquests he wears with confidence. During their first encounter Fernando “takes Elena from behind” in the same room where Anais pretends to sleep in another bed just a few meters from the event. That Fernando requests that Elena take him in her mouth after anally penetrating her, speaks to a societally informed notion of humiliation attending sexual indoctrination.

Fat Girl

Breillat contrasts generational and sexual codes of behavior between her characters. The girls’ mother and father (Arsinee Khanjian and Romain Goupil) are at odds decreed by their social positions. Fernando’s concern for going to prison for deflowering an underage girl doesn’t prevent him from stealing a precious ring from his overweight mother (Laura Betti) to give to Elena even if he doesn’t really intend the gift as the engagement ring that Elena imagines.


The story belongs to Anais. Her observant, if pokerfaced, vantage points on morality and social conditions enable her to survive a traumatic event via the brutal lessons she vicariously learns. “Fat Girl” is an understated picture that doesn’t shy away from any of the ambitious thematic heights that Breillat fearlessly mounts. Like Breillat’s debut feature (“A Real Young Girl”) “Fat Girl” is a masterpiece awaiting inspection by audiences open to its unveiled meanings and insightful commentary about double standards and coming of age.

COLE SMITHEYA small request: Help keep Cole Smithey writing reviews, creating video essays, and making podcasts. Click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon, and receive special rewards!




Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos



Throwback Thursday

Podcast Series