|Anais Reboux and Roxane Mesquida in Fat Girl, directed by Catherine Breillat|
Fat Girl (2001)
d. Catherine Breillat
Criterion Collection #259
Fat Girl is a film that retains the capacity to shock a viewer nearly fifteen years after the initial showing. Like many films, Fat Girl was, and continues to be, controversial because of the frank depiction of what we would call "underage" girls having sex. Anais, the Fat Girl of the title, and played by Anais Reboux, is the 13 year old younger sister (by two years) of the thinner, more attractive Elena (played by Roxane Mesquida.) On vacation, the two engage in some frankly sexual banter, before Elena promptly hooks up with Fernando, an older law student. Elena and Fernando start out with a little light anal sex when Elena balks at going "all the way," "It's a proof of your love." he whispers to her as a horrified Anais listens to her sister howl.
Things escalate from there, with Fernando giving Elena an antique ring and promise of engagement in exchange for her virginity. Fernando's Mom shows up to reclaim the heirloom, Anais and Elena's Mother is furious and drives them home. They stop for the night at a rest stop, and an axe murderer kills Elena and their Mom, and drags Anais into the woods where he rapes her. The next morning, she is pulled stumbling out of the woods, and denies being raped. ROLL CREDITS.
Breillat moves the story along at a brisk pace, more sitcom than elegiac French feature. Anais is simply a witness to her sister's immolation, she is alternately loved and abused by the more attractive Elena, and in an intimate moment she says that the parents play them off against one another. The ambiguity of the rape/not rape at the hands of the crazed axe murderer inevitably leads someone watching to go back and reconsider the rest of the film. Perhaps what at first seemed like a moderately harmless sexual adventure is meant to represent something much deeper and darker. Or perhaps it's just a crazy ass ending!