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"Fat Girl"

Directed by Catherine Breillat.
Written by Catherine Breillat. 
Starring Anais Reboux and Roxane Mesquida.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  12/7/01 

Folks-- 

There is something special about going to see a great independent movie.

Now, on the surface, that might seem like the most obvious statement in the world.  But, think about it:  when you have seen a great indy, you want to tell the whole world about it, because unlike a wide-release studio film, not everyone will have the chance to see that movie.  And, you feel good about what you saw, because your expectations were exceeded, you learned something you didn't think you would, you were genuinely surprised, or maybe you were just stupefied by the genius of the medium.  Whenever you feel like you know a little something more than the rest of the populace, you feel like you have a little something for them.  It's kind of like that friend you have that always seems to recommend an CD that you have never heard of, only to find that you love it.  Or, that guy that goes to every shitty burger joint in town, and always has a great non-chain recommendation for you.  Or, that girl that works for the government that has probably reached the end of the internet by now, and knows all the good websites for your daily needs.

Well, friends, I try to provide those same services to you every so often, by seeing a film that I haven't heard anything about to uncover that next gold nugget.  And sometimes, by blind luck, I get one right.  Well, "Fat Girl" is that film.  It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, going to lead to long, deep discussions at your office about what it is about—its story arc wraps up all its questions in a full 90 minutes.  But, it WILL resonate with you for a long time.

Anais Reboux stars as the fat girl in question, a 12-year-old named Anais that is, well, fat.  To further back the point, director Catherine Breillat shows Anais constantly eating, and we meet her as she is ordering a banana split, the ultimate fatty food.  Anais has very defined opinions of sex, and they are in total opposition to the thoughts of her older sister, 15-year-old Elena (Roxane Mesquida), who is looking to hand out the candy to the first hot guy she can get her hands on.  When she does, Elena finds herself falling in love with the Italian suitor (Libero de Rienzo) who was clearly in it for the sex from the start.  (Much like "Amelie", sex is on the mind of everyone involved here, and being a French film, all of the romantic scenes are much more intimate & intense than the crap that defines American sex scenes in R-rated features.)  Anyway, to tell you more would give things away.

Reboux and Mesquida are fascinating in this film...fascinating.  But, more interesting (at least, in the first half of the film) is de Rienzo's character, a 20-something international law student that spends much of his screen time talking about how easy it is to get women.  And, his tactics to get Elena in bed with him are all the more impressive because even though they are lifted from the Guy Handbook of Scoring, you fully believe that it could be working...and then, it does!  Are all Italian guys this way?  I am not sure, but this one in particular is DIRTY!

And, friends, I have seen many, many films.  The ending for this film is *disturbing.*  I have never, in all the hundreds--literally, hundreds—of times I have seen a movie in a theater seen a grown man run out of the theater before.  A guy sitting behind me tonight bolted out of his chair as if he was going to throw up.  The guy sitting next to me shared a look with me that said, "Whoa!"  Expect to be shocked, shocked, shocked by this finale.  In fact, I now believe that the director was just trying to lull me to sleep with a truly boring 20 minutes' worth of footage, only to slap me across the face with its ending.  Whatever she was trying to do worked, cause this one is a whammy!

You might love this movie, you might hate it...but, like I said, it will stick with you for a while either way.

Rating:  Opening Weekend

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09