After the firestorm of controversy surrounding Catherine Breillat’s movie Fat Girl and its subsequent banning in Ontario, I couldn’t wait to review it and find out what all the hoopla was about. I wasn’t worried about the deep-seated psychological repercussions of watching this film (that is what the Ontario Film Board was trying to protect me from, right?). A friend of mine saw the movie in New York and told me it made him sick, which only made me want to see it more.
Watching with anticipation, nothing seemed like much of a big deal. Until the end. We’re talking about making the audience feel slightly sick, visions haunting us for weeks. Still, even avoiding the issue of censorship on a larger scale, Fat Girl should not have been banned. The movie happens to be really good (even though the end is so traumatizing).
The movie starts off innocently enough, with 12-year-old Anais (the “fat girl,” played by Anais Reboux) singing about finding love. Shortly thereafter, things aren’t so innocent as Anais and her 15-year-old sister, Elena (Roxane Mesquida) discuss who will get laid first on their Parisian vacation. Of course, it’s prettier, skinnier and older sister Elena, courtesy of Fernando (Libero de Rienzo), an Italian stallion the sisters meet at a restaurant.
One of the most controversial scenes is the very long and drawn-out seduction of Elena by Fernando, which contains full frontal nudity. Fernando is by anyone’s standards a smooth-talking pig of a player.
He uses so many lines (good, plain stupid and incredibly vomit-inducing) that one expects her to give in just to shut him up.
After explaining that men don’t like having sex with virgins because “it’s too much responsibility,” Fernando manages to get Elena to let him give it to her from behind since “it doesn’t count” and she’ll remain a virgin. While all this is happening, Anais is watching and listening from her bed.
The climax comes after Fernando’s mother comes to reclaim a ring he gave Elena. Upon learning of her daughter’s deflowering, Elena’s mother ends their vacation. Growing tired on the drive home, she pulls into a parking lot. Shortly thereafter a man smashes the front windshield, then smashes Elena’s head, strangles the mother and rapes Anais, who never screams out. The movie ends with Anais telling the cops she wasn’t raped. “Don’t believe me if you don’t want to,” are her final words, as the image freezes on her stubborn glare.