F.I.L.M. of the Week (April 6, 2017)

6 04 2017

Seduction gets the on-screen treatment quite a bit, though I can say I’ve rarely seen it so expertly dissembled as it was in Catherine Breillat’s “Fat Girl,” my pick for the “F.I.L.M. of the Week.” This twisted tale of adolescent experimentation, which delightedly revels in its own bawdiness, spends a solid 20 minutes of its tight 83 minute runtime devoted to a single scene in which college-aged beach rat Fernando (Libero De Rienzo) attempts to get in the pants of teenaged Elena (Roxane Mesquida). He’s using just about every trick in the book to end up at intercourse, but Elena clutches the prize of her virginity with a firm grip. It’s not something Fernando would need to pry from her cold, dead hands, so, slowly, he chips away at her resistance.

All the while, Elena’s younger sister Anaïs (Anaïs Reboux) bears witness to the scene playing out from the vantage point of her bed a few feet away. She’s an odd mixture of appalled and fascinated, repelled and curious. At the time documented in the movie, Anaïs (the titular obese woman) has begun to realize and visualize herself in sexual terms. She betrays little, concealing both her jealousy and vicarious pleasure.

“Fat Girl” provides only a short window into the lives of Elena and Anaïs, denying us the chance to go on any of the traditional “journey” narratives associated with teenage sexuality. Instead, Breillat forces us to stare at sex for what it is. That’s not always pretty. Sometimes, it amounts to little more than the fulfillment of animalistic desires – even over the valid objections of another person.

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