À ma Soeur


As you might gather from the low star rating, I really hated this film. It made me angry, but not good-angry, like if it had made me think and question my reaction, but plain bad-angry at wasting 83 minutes of my life watching a lazy, misguided pseudo-art film. “À ma soeur” (or “Fat Girl”, as it’s insultingly titled in the US) is the latest from Catherine Breillat, whose big thing is to rock snobbish intellectual circles by making so-called feminist movies depicting graphic but cold and impersonal sex acts. The best example of her close-minded vision is a scene in the overrated “Romance” in which a woman is stuck through a wall, with only her legs and private parts on one side, where dirty men rudely screw her or jerk off on her. I found it insulting as a man, and I can’t see how a woman wouldn’t feel the same way. Sure, some men are lowly dogs, but it’s paranoia to put them all in the same league.

Okay, so about this new chapter in Breillat’s long “women are victims” craptacular saga. You’ve got these two French sisters whose parents have brought on a holiday to Italy. Anaïs (Anaïs Redoux) is 12, a bit chubby (I wouldn’t call her fat) and rather conflicted and self-conscious, thanks to her sister’s relentless taunts. Elena (Roxane Mesquida) is 15 and pretty but naïve and often bitchy. Both girls are intrigued by sex, but not in a giggly schoolgirl way ; this is a Breillat pic after all, so they’re already weird and bitter about sex, even though they never did it. They just wanna get rid of their virginity, like it’s a chore. Or so they say? For when Elena hooks up with twenty-something Roman dude Fernando (Libero de Rienzo), she falls back into clueless, love-blinded girly patterns, believing all his obvious bullshit which is only meant to get her in bed, in which he succeeds. And then… Well, not much really happens in the film. The sisters yell at each other a lot, but sometimes they’re friendly. Elena falls more and more for Fernando, giving him access to one orifice after another. And then… Well, more on that later.

Right away, I have to stress how mediocre a film this is. Maybe the premise has the potential to be developed into an unflinching look at teenage girls’ sexuality, but the way writer-director Breillat goes at it, apparently girls have as much fun getting laid as when they’re vomiting. Breillat obviously feels contempt for the male characters, from Fernando as the insincere, lying dick, to the unavailable, grumpy workaholic father. But even the females are portrayed in a bad light. The mother is an impulsive, bitter woman who yells and slaps her kids, Elena is dumb, illogical, slutty and cruel to her sister, and Anaïs is this pathetic “fat” girl who’s always stuffing her face, making out with inanimate objects or singing some whiny ditty which spells out her despair and has her imploring crows to devour her aching heart. Oh, brother.

All this is shown through long, boring scenes of no cinematic or thematic interest, such as a more than 10 minute long sequence in which all we see is highway driving. I’m not kidding, Breillat just shoots the family car passing by other cars and countless trucks, for minutes on end. Oh, the girls are sobbing in their seats, and they say a few words, but it’s still endlessly dull. And then comes the oh-so-shocking ending, which I found retarded and despicable. ***SPOILER AHEAD*** In an even more extreme strain of paranoid nonsense, a big bad wolf of a guy kills both the mother and the older sister and rapes the 12 year old in the woods. It’s depicted almost exactly like the earlier consensual sex scenes because, wouldn’t you know it, all sex is rape and all men are predators, right? =sigh= ***END OF SPOILER***

Don’t encourage Breillat by watching her self-indulgent, utterly unenjoyable and shallow little exposé, and don’t get fooled by the controversy which surrounds it into thinking this is a daring film. Naked teenagers or not, this is still the work of a feminist reactionary without any notable filmmaking skills.