Irish Film Institute -À ma sœur

À ma sœur

Director: Catherine Breillat

The ever-provocative Catherine Breillat comes up with another intimate and occasionally graphic study of female sexuality with À ma sœur!, which translates as To My Sister!, but which is currently saddled with the uninviting English title Fat Girl. Whereas the writer-director’s last film, Romance, dealt with the frustrations of an unfulfilled woman, the new one tackles the even trickier subject of underage sex and the loss of virginity.
The story unfolds with its youthful female characters on summer vacation. Beautiful Elena (Roxane Mesquida) is 15; her plump sister, Anais (Anais Reboux), is just 12. Elena meets Italian law student Fernando (Libero de Rienzo), and they’re soon petting heavily while Anais looks on. The next night, Elena invites Fernando to her room. There follows a typically extended sequence in which Breillatoalways excellent when observing the sexual activities of her charactersodepicts Fernando’s gradual seduction of the excited but fearful Elena, while Anaisoawake and listeningolies in the next bed. All Elena will permit Frenando is anal intercourse. The frankness of this sequence is exceeded on the following night when Elena allows the student to deflower her.
The last third of the film is on another level altogether. When, in the father’s absence, the truth comes out about Elena, it’s left to motherowho hates driving on highwaysoto take the girls home. There follows a very tense sequence as the mother inexpertly drives alongside fast-moving trucks and other traffic. The viewer is prepared for some kind of tragedy, but when it occurs it comes entirely out of left field and will have audiences gasping.
France, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 93 min.

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