Ma Soeur!
Sisters. Anais and Elena (Reboux and Mesquida) grow up...
aka Fat Girl or For My Sister!

dir-scr Catherine Breillat
with Anais Reboux, Roxanne Mesquida, Libero de Rienzo, Arsinee Khanjian, Roman Goupil, Laura Betti, Albert Goldberg, Odette Barriere, Anne Matthijsse, Pierre Renverseau, Jean-Marc Boulanger, Frederick Bodin
release US 12.Oct.01; UK 7.Dec.01
01/France 1h33

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

After her controversial examination of women in Romance, Breillat turns her attention to teen girls in this equally disturbing--and preachy--film. Anais (Reboux) is a chubby 12-year-old on holiday at the coast with her sexy 15-year-old sister Elena (Mesquida) and their oblivious parents (Khanjian and Goupil). These sisters are very different types--Elena lets her beauty guide her, while Anais is more thoughtful and intelligent. Naturally, sex is something they discuss at length, and soon Elena decides to lose her virginity with the Italian law student Fernando (de Rienzo), her summer boyfriend.

There's a real earthy naturalism in the way these teens talk to each other; the honest rhythms of speech and physical contact ring true, due to an insightful script and very brave performances from the young cast. The back and forth of Anais and Elena's sibling relationship is exactly right, as is the unbalanced romance between Elena and Fernando. There's an almost creepy sense of impending sadness over the entire film, due in part to the realities of the situation (and the graphic depiction thereof), but also because the film is heading somewhere utterly unexpected. The final scene is jarring beyond belief! And this is a big problem, because it's as if Breillat punishes her characters for their mistakes, like some vengeful filmmaker god! It's absolutely inexplicable, and it sucks the meaning out of the terrific and often provocative film that came before.
very strong adult themes and situations, language, nudity, violence cert 18 6.Nov.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Josh Hubbard, Leicester: 4 out of 5 stars "I'm not sure about the ending, whether it is a judgement from the filmmaker or a comment on society's treatment of female virginity: girls are useful when they have it and used and useless when they do not. I prefer the latter view, although I am not exactly comfortable with how it fits with the rest of the film. As for that rest of the film, what stands out, inevitably, are the sex scenes, how they come about and how they carry on when they have. How the director depicts this so-common situation is excellent. Essentially, beauty is taken advantage of and abused. What allows this is a combination of faults, both the boy's and the girl's, the girl's innocent and the boy's, of course, less so. The final scenes may be intended to be a comment. They almost certainly are. But the rest is a depiction. Not much more. Unbelievably interesting, nonetheless." (13.Feb.04)
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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