A Ma Soeur! (aka Fat Girl) Review

A provocative and shocking drama about sibling rivalry, family discord and relationships.

Another French drama dealing with relatable and deep issues; yet unlike Tomboy this one is very hard hitting. Anias; the “Fat Girl” is a rotund young girl; she is on the constant receiving end of emotional abuse which throughout the film becomes harder and harder to watch. This creates a very deep feeling of empathy within the viewer, which is partly what makes the film so hard to watch.

PDVD_015The main theme throughout the film is sibling relationships. Anias and Elena’s close, loving sisterly relationship is balanced out by bitter rivalry. Anias’ weight not only highlights her insecurity but shows how she stores feelings inside, and uses food as a comfort; emphasizing again the torment and emotional abuse she goes through regularly.

The film covers many different themes, and has undertones of teenage sexuality; the two young girls both blossoming and becoming sexually aware. Anias’ pouting features remind us that she is still in the between stages of childhood and adolescence, while Elena’s forced maturity is a thin veneer which shows she is still an immature child too. This not only aids the theme of teenage sexuality but also highlights the fragility of young people and their emotions.

Anias is forced to witness the corruption of her sister at the hands of manipulative Italian Law student Fernando, who sneaks into their room at night and convinces Elena to have sex with him. This scene is somewhat disturbing, and again creates empathy for Anias. Fernando’s domineering  behavior and cleverly calculated manipulation is almost scary, again emphasizing the emotional fragility of young people.

Anias, although younger than Elena, is wise beyond her years and has a more wary approach to the subject of romance and sex. She understands that Fernando’s words and promises are hollow, while Elena lives the fantasy. There is this constant contrast throughout the film, in which both girls try to determine their own sexuality and sexual maturity.

images (3)Fat Girl is brutally honest; Catherine Breillat explores the idea that a young persons first sexual encounter is not what everyone imagines it to be, and its not like it is in story books.

The ending is perhaps one of the most shocking and unexpected endings to a film I have ever seen. Although it seems so out of place and unusual, it leaves you thinking for ages. When Anias, Elena and their mother are driving home, the stop in a service station to sleep in the car, when suddenly an axe wielding man smashes through the windscreen, killing Elena and the girls’ mother. Calmly Anias steps out of the car and backs into the woods, where she is pursued and raped. When Anias is helped out of the woods by police and taken back to her father, she says “he didn’t rape me, you don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to”. This to begin with makes little sense, and her calmness and apparent indifference seem ridiculously out of place. However it relates to something Anias had said earlier on; that she would rather lose her virginity to someone she didn’t care about so she could get the whole ordeal over with. The final line of the film is shocking and very thought provoking, yet in some ways it makes sense; Elena lived the romantic fantasy she so dreamed of, and regretted her first sexual experience having been manipulated and pressured, while Anias didn’t let herself become emotionally connected to the situation.

Fat Girl is shocking and actually considerably disturbing in its frank and brutal exploration of teenage sexuality, but the ending, and indeed the entire film, is so powerful that the messages are still playing on my mind. Its definitely a film worthy of discussion after watching, because at first glance it seems strange and very confusing.


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