“She was in the woods. She says he didn’t rape her.”
‘Fat Girl’, directed by Catherine Breillat in 2001, is a French drama the focuses on a pair of sisters: Anaïs, played by Anaïs Reboux and Elena, played by Roxane Mesquida. The pair are on holiday with their parents in a seaside resort when Elena, the older sister, meets an Italian boy. They begin flirting and eventually end up in bed in the same room as Elena’s socially awkward younger sister. The Italian pressures Elena for sex and eventually she relents, but when her mother finds out after her father has already left for home, they end the holiday early, but the journey home has a nasty and brutal surprise. The movie is a dark and disturbing one. Like Breillat’s other films, including ‘Anatomy of Hell’, there is a concentration on the abusive and the taboo, here represented not only be the Italian boy’s cynical seduction of Elena, but the fact that the affair is seen through the eyes of the innocent and vulnerable Anaïs. It’s like a perversion of Éric Rohmer’s lighter and more optimistic seasons quartet: everything hopeful in a film like ‘A Tale of Summer’ is twisted and corrupted, not least the end of ‘Fat Girl’ which provides a macabre and shocking twist. If anything, this darkness eclipses what Breillat seems to be trying to say about male dominance, the end of the movie overstepping the line of credibility and, instead of an intellectual shock, it provides a visceral one.
Would I recommend it? Yes – but it is hard to stomach and not for everyone. The film was originally banned in Canada, which say something about the content. Watch in a double bill with ‘A Tale of Summer’ for an uplift.