074: Fat Girl (2001)

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.

★★☆☆☆☆

IMDb it.

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072: Irreversible (2002)

After seeing the first twenty minutes some years back, I’ve been too afraid to watch Irreversible in full. The film is notorious, pernicious, harrowing and vile, yet completely compelling.

Deeming it unnecessary to write about the brutal plot in detail, it’s safe to say that it is definitely not for the faint hearted or weak stomached. Unlike the torturous Human Centipede-schtick, Irreversible is extreme on a wholly tactile, fathomable level. If anything can be said of the structure, the reverse chronology is very effective; opening the film with unspeakable horror and closing with an ironic and perturbed sense of tranquility and hope.

Without imploding my film-studies brain box, Irreversible questions the very nature and spectacle of cinema itself; why do we find certain things more compelling and arresting than others? Who sets the moral code of acceptability? Moreover, what psychological impact can such boundary pushing texts have?

By no means a perfect film, Irreversible unmistakably opened up a new niche for Euro-extremism; changing the face of cinema into a more provocative and boundless mass medium.

In short, not a great date movie.

★★★

IMDB it.