**** Review contains spoilers and refers to the Cinémoi channel screening of Une Vraie Jeune Fille ****
It is clear to see why this strange and unsettling little film was banned for so long. Close-up explicit nudity (mainly female but some male) abounds. It is certainly no turn-on though, as director Catherine Breillat juxtaposes nude scenes with images of ordure, vomit, urination, dying flies, dead dogs, cut-up-worms and (most disturbingly for me) the protracted killing of a hen. The star (that is probably the wrong word) of the proceedings is Charlotte Alexandra, playing the 14 year old Alice. I cannot find a definitive D.O.B for this actress, but it appears she was around 16 or 17 when this film was shot. Coming home from boarding school to her profoundly dysfunctional family (the downright creepy two-timing father watches television with his privates hanging out), she explores her burgeoning sexuality, firstly by herself (initially with with the yucky sticky help of the jam spoon!) and then with Jim - one of her father's labourers. Her knickers are off more often than not, as scene follows unsettling scene. The wormy bit and Alice crawling along on all fours with feathers stuck where the sun don't shine, were particularly bizarre. A few cautionary elements are introduced, as Alice's juvenile attempts to tart herself up result in a disturbing molestation by a middle-aged pervert at a fairground. This is no moral tale though. Breillat seems to have aimed primarily to shock. The killing of a character in the final scenes and the ghastly mother's unsympathetic lamentations about how the tragedy would financially ruin her, come almost as a little light relief.
I suppose the film is the product of a certain pioneering bravery which, at times, reminded me slightly of Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs but, like that latter-day attempt to bring explicit sexuality into the mainstream, Une Vraie Jeune Fille is not a film I would want to watch again.