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[Short Reviews]

À MA SOEUR (FAT GIRL)

It was feminist critic Laura Mulvey, I believe, who claimed that her goal was to eliminate all pleasure from movies. She neednít look much farther than the films of French sensation Catherine Breillat, who makes not just movies joyless but sex as well. In her previous effort, Romance, Breillat combined humorless pretentiousness with sophomoric shock effects to elicit boredom and unintentional laughter. Little pleasure there. Here she combines charmless characters and gratuitous shock effects to elicit distaste and irritation.

Anaïs (Anaïs Reboux), the title fat girl, is a pouchy 14-year-old cursed with a vapid, malicious, and thinner older sister, Elena (Roxane Mesquida), a crass and clueless father, and a brittle mother who chides her continuously about her overeating. In fact, everybody has something to say about that, and they might have a point. The family are on vacation at the seaside and Anaïs is not having much fun, being tortured by Elenaís pathetic pursuit of older boys and by the inane monologues and tunes Breillat compels her to amuse herself with in her solitude. The centerpiece of the film is a 10-minute-long interlude in which tacky Fernando (Libero De Rienzo) clumsily coaxes Elena into sex acts while Anaïs looks on numbly from the neighboring bed. Men! A bold blow against the tyranny of the male gaze and for the liberation of the female object? Maybe so, but for me the man with the ax couldnít come soon enough.

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: November 29 - December 6, 2001

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