A couple of films back, I watched Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible from 2002. In many ways unforgettable, the film left me with more perplexing questions than answers. Mainly asking what we find so compelling about those ‘look-away’, corporeal moments which are ever-increasingly purported in European indie cinema?
Produced a year previous, Fat Girl is another French-extremism film that pushes the boundaries of difficult subject matter. A seemingly conventional 2-point-4 family on their summer vacation, things start to crumble in paradise when rebellious teenager Elena meets a young Italian who she falls hopelessly in love with, invoking discord amongst her parents and twelve year old sister Anais, the ‘fat girl’.
Although not conventionally explicit, the film draws it’s shock tactics through the cataclysmic actions being presented through Anais’ own eyes. Glancing on at her sister’s acts and bad decisions, it’s as if Anais (named after the goddess of love, no less) is the one being debased and corrupted.
Similarly to Noe, director Catherine Breillat thrives on the devilish, awkward moments and longs to outrage audiences. Unlike her fellow frenchman, Breillat isn’t a good storyteller; creating a script which is bungling and dull. Never a film you were intended to enjoy (if you do, you need psychiatric help), Fat Girl takes an unwatchable subject matter, attempts to valorise it, and ends up with a tedious final product.