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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enigmatic movie from a director of rare quality
Catherine Breillat has courted controversy since she wrote her first novel at 17. She would eventually make the transition from novelist to screenwriter to film director, but there are recurring themes which crop up in her various roles. Prominent amongst these are her exploration of the sexuality of women and teenage fascination with (and angst about) virginity -...
Published on 29 May 2005 by Budge Burgess

versus
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars BBFC Vandalism of great cinema continues...
Up until watching a ma souer the work of Catherine Breillat has never truly delivered what I'd hoped it would. Her films have always, for me, seemed to reek of pretence, of self-importance, a simulacra of intelligence. Always promoting sensationalism over and above their, seemingly, vacuous content.

A ma soeur has changed my view of her work. Brilliant. Superb...
Published on 12 Jan 2007 by Dedalus


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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enigmatic movie from a director of rare quality, 29 May 2005
By 
Budge Burgess (Kilmarnock, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Ma Soeur! [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Catherine Breillat has courted controversy since she wrote her first novel at 17. She would eventually make the transition from novelist to screenwriter to film director, but there are recurring themes which crop up in her various roles. Prominent amongst these are her exploration of the sexuality of women and teenage fascination with (and angst about) virginity - both of which are central to "À Ma Soeur".
The film concerns two sisters - the slim, pretty 15 year old, the overweight, marginalised 12 year old - and their relationship with one another and with their own sexuality and virginity. The girls have been taken on a family holiday but are abandoned to one another's company. Their parents seem to avoid contact with them, other than at meal times. Father, especially, is too busy with concerns about his work to be anything other than a token, family figurehead.
Elena is expected to take responsibility for the younger Anas. They are of an age to grow apart, and when Elena strikes up a conversation with an Italian law student, the scene is set for the fragmentation of the sisters' relationship. Anas becomes effectively invisible as the experienced young man seduces Elena.
Seduction, and loss of virginity, will take place in the girls' bedroom while Anas is supposedly asleep. But Anas watches as her sister is coaxed and coerced with words of love. Breillat frequently presents the contrasting images of teenage sexuality - on the one hand, precocious, dangerous, on the other, abusive, self-destructive. Teenage (or adult) self-image, self-confidence, and self-respect are often intimately bound up in how you imagine yourself to be perceived sexually by others ... are you desirable, or spurned. Here we have the two sisters, one desirable, the other spurned, one the focus of attention, the other invisible.
The sex, here, holds none of the glamour Hollywood usually offers up - no happy teenagers frolicking. Sex for Breillat is clumsy, manipulative, nave. Anas, however, is more worldly than her sister. She doesn't fall for male lies. While Elena dreams of her first lover being someone special, someone romantic, someone who truly loves her, Anas declares that a girl's first lover should be anonymous so no male can go boast about being her first.
Breillat exposes us to sex and the volatility of adolescent emotions. Her male characters are almost stereotypical - wholly self-conscious, wholly self-centred. The student pursues his latest conquest. The father is more interested in his work and status than his children.
When Elena's relationship with the student is exposed, the parents are furious - they could lose face, it could be embarrassing. Loss of virginity ceases to be something personal - it now becomes shameful, public property. The parents have no thought for the feelings or needs of their girls. The holiday is ended and mother drives off back to the city, arguing with her children.
And the climax. Sudden. Three females, safe in their car. The hymen is shattered. And the ending ... is enigmatic. Cut by a minute and more by the censors ... leaving you to imagine what has taken place. Most of the time I feel the ending is grossly unsatisfactory, even before it was censored ... and then I think ... well. It's certainly an ending where you, as viewer, are forced to wonder what has happened and what will happen next.
Not an easy film to watch - the story is simple, but you have to work at following the emotions of the sisters. Anas Reboux gives an outstanding performance as the younger girl. Breillat's neo realism is disturbing ... but humorous in places. I wonder if she laughed when she found that the film would be released in the USA under the title of Fat Girl ? That seems a particularly abusive description of a fine piece of acting and a sensitive exploration of teenage identity.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breilliat's best film, uncut, 31 July 2010
Fat Girl (aka A Ma Soeur!) is French director Catherine Breilliat's caustic version of a teen film. It's about two young teenage sisters - Elena, who is pretty and sexy, and Anais, who is fat and ignored. On holiday, Elena is seduced by a handsome young Italian scoundrel. It's a modern classic.

The key scene in Fat Girl take place after dark in the girl's bedroom. The Italian suitor gets in, and has sex with Elena, while Anais is forced to listen in the next bed. This scene plays out in real time, and mercilessly reveals the craven behaviour of supposedly 'nice' young men who are desperate to have sex. This is the flip side of American Pie and its ilk, and is uncomfortable viewing, especially as Breilliat makes us share Anais's revulsion at it all.

The next day, the girls and their mother return home, but en route there is a very violent incident awaiting them. It may be Anais's embittered fantasy, it may not, but its inclusion is crucial to the good boy/bad boy debate the film is having. This scene is censor cut in the UK version, and there is an apology for this inside the box. By contrast, the US Criterion version is uncut, has superior picture quality, and is well worh picking up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sibling rivalry, 5 Feb 2004
It appears that there is no defined direction to this supposedly innocent film, which from the very beginning focuses simply on two french sisters, the elder pretty and slim etc, the youngest being the plump ugly duckling. It documents the fairly typical family on their summer holiday in France, the squabbling between the two girls and their over-worked, career obsessed father and mother; who is susceptible to panic attacks. The elder sister meets an older Italian boy, who of course is only after one thing and succeeds in leading her astray, the ugly duckling has to endure their sexual antics-whilst pretending to sleep. The film seems to dwindle along, and at points seems like it may have been aimed at young teenagers.
That is until the end... Where the mother and her two daughters are left to drive home without their father, who returns to work. The three of them end up on the motorway, the panic stricken mother driving fairly recklessly in a very long, tense and at times wince inducing scene. I wont spoil the end, but I can reassure you it will not be what you expect! Many people find the ending too grotesque, but I think it is genius-in its simplicity-considering that this is the type of film not required to shock you, it certainly does!
Its one of many of my favourite french films, and I would recommend it to anyone with a vaguely dark side.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars BBFC Vandalism of great cinema continues..., 12 Jan 2007
By 
Dedalus (...under milk wood) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Ma Soeur! [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Up until watching a ma souer the work of Catherine Breillat has never truly delivered what I'd hoped it would. Her films have always, for me, seemed to reek of pretence, of self-importance, a simulacra of intelligence. Always promoting sensationalism over and above their, seemingly, vacuous content.

A ma soeur has changed my view of her work. Brilliant. Superb. Understated. Honest. Beautiful.

For me this film WAS about the nature of consent. Of ones willingness to consent and the many ways in which ones own consent may be manipulated and contrived. Under close inspection the film presents two rapes. In one instance a child consents, under the manipulation of her lover to a statuatory rape, she desires love, in offering what she believes is love in her naivety, she in fact becomes a victim. The second rape, cut by the BBFC, is consensual. She does not desire love and in a way, avoids becoming a victim. Had one been able to see the film pre-bbfc barbarism one way have a different view however. Thank you censorship for once again denying the freedom of interpretation and helping to maintain ignorance and a lack of clarity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Don't believe me if you don't want to"., 12 Jan 2010
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Ma Soeur! [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Elena is a beautiful young woman who is keen to remind her younger sister Anais that she is fat and unlikely to ever get a man whereas she attracts attention wherever she goes. Proving the point - within the first five minutes of the film Elena has enticed a man into her life and she begins to play mindgames with him, little teases to test him and get information from but above all to get him to focus entirely on her and tell her that he loves her. He is far more manipulative and every word he utter is carefully chosen to get what he wants, he even manages to make her feel guilty when he claims that he may be forced to get another girl if she doesn't give him the satisfaction he desires.

Elena's new love creates more friction between between the two sisters as Anais' personal philosophy on the physical aspect of young love is in direct conflict with Elena's. Nobody seems happy in the film, the only emotions which are portrayed are either faked or misplaced, and there are glimpses of the unemotional interactions between their parents.

The relationship between the two sisters becomes more strained and there's a a strangely compelling scene in the film as the two rest their heads against each other and hold hands as they tell how much they despise each other, they conclude that "We hate each other because we're raised as rivals". Anais recalls the exact moment in their past when their once close relationship snapped and the two turned on each other.
The scene is told with good grace and humour, but it hints at a deep psychological pain which unites the 'chalk and cheese' pair.

I'd heard that there was a shocking ending to the film, and I was pretty tensed up when I watched and awaited it. The film seems to be leading towards a particular type of event which I was not looking forward to watching, but it didn't happen. I'm not going to give anything away, all I'll say is that the end was very unexpected and perhaps unnecessarily so.

In a nutshell: A Ma Soeur spends time building up a series of complex relationships around two sisters. There are relationships with parents, a relationship with a lover, and more importantly - the sibling relationship itself. The film starts to explore these relationships and put them under pressure, but all the efforts in constructing the elements of those unions are seemingly abandoned in an ending which seems leave so much unexplained. There is an ugly poetry to the ending, but it still seems guilty of shocking just for the sake of it. If I were more of a sceptic, I'd consider it was done merely to finish a project for which no other ending could be decided. Having said that though - over zealous censorship might have contributed to any negative thoughts I had about the ending.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Demoralising and saddening story of teenage fantasy, 23 Jan 2008
By 
Pan Tsang (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Ma Soeur! [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
I don't hold grudge against graphic and disturbing 'arts' and personally with no high moral standard, I find the movie distasteful as it depiction of two sisters holiday experience in this small coastal town in France. It is opened by a dialogs between two sisters on the view on sex. While the sex scene is graphic and mildly disturbing from two under-aged actresses, the story centered around teenage yearning for love and desires.

The two sisters are in stark contrasts of each other, the older one pretty, slim, the younger one ugly and fat, what they have share in common is youthful anger and resentment, while the older shows more of untamed bossiness and lousy manner. In this respect, A ma soeur nevertheless offer a good depiction of teenager's longeing and curiosity of sex .

The reconciliation and confession of two sisters added another layers to their character yet it is failed to rescued the movie from generally weak filming and script, and perhaps ironically, it only resonated the sudden and deadly sad ending.

It reminds me of Catherine Hardwicke's Thirteen on similar theme, only much better.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A significant film marred by British censorship, 9 April 2003
By 
Henry Menninger (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Ma Soeur! [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
Catherine Breillat deserves credit here – if not for achieving the brilliance of some of her earlier work, then for having the brass to push the envelope of cinematic boundaries still further. The controversial ending of “A ma sœur”, which aroused as much ire for its shocking and explicit imagery as for its baffling lack of coherence with the rest of the story (Breillat has herself admitted that this plot twist was a last-minute afterthought), HAS BEEN CUT FROM THIS VIDEO RELEASE. In the liner notes is an explanatory and none-too-apologetic message indicating that the final sequence is cut by 1m28s, although it was shown uncut in UK cinemas. It is rather disappointing that the BBFC retain the power to slice up such significant works of art unilaterally and with impunity, all in the name of “[preventing] child abuse”. If you want to make up your own mind about the ending, are not a pdophile and wish to see the film as Breillat intended it to be seen, I suggest purchasing this DVD outside of Britain, from a vendor that sells it intact.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Fat Girl" on BLU RAY - Great Film But Compatibility Issues For UK Buyers..., 23 Feb 2014
By 
Mark Barry (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
As you've no doubt gathered - the vast majority of reviews for this film release discuss the 'DVD'.
But if you want France's "Fat Girl" on this fully restored BLU RAY - therein lies a problem.

The USA-ONLY release is the desired Criterion version - but its REGION-A LOCKED so won't play on the vast majority of UK BLU RAY players unless they're chipped to be a Multi-Region for 'BLU RAY' - and most aren’t. And unlike their DVD counterparts - those BLU RAY players that are 'Multi-Region' are invariably very pricey.

Until such time as another reissue company sees fit to give it a UK/EURO release on this side of the pond - you're stuck with that...
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Ma Soeur!, 27 Jun 2002
This review is from: A Ma Soeur! [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a grim yet fascinating film by Catherine Breillat which explores the love-hate relationship between two sisters as they holiday in the south of France. The main character, Anais, is an ungainly and overweight 12-year-old, who spends a lot of time on her own, singing sad songs to herself and eating. Her older sister Elena, is tall, slim, and blossoming into a beautiful young woman. At times, Elena may seem cruel and heartless, and Anais, bitter and jealous, yet there is a certain amount of affection between the girls. When Elena falls in love with an Italian law student, Anais watches out for her sister. She also becomes the unwilling spectator of their sexual liasons, and this is how she comes to the conclusion that it is better not to love the man who takes her virginity.
This film is a gripping portrayal of the ambivalent relationship between sisters who are often set up to be compared and judged. The end is a shocking, yet in the context of what has happened before, an unsurprising conclusion.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pretty Things..., 21 Nov 2005
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Ma Soeur! [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
"A Ma Soeur" is an absorbing "coming of age" film about two very different teenage sisters on holiday with their parents, one of whom (Elena)is keen on being deflowered by an Italian law student before they return home. The other sister (Anais) is chubby, withdrawn and constantly in the shadow of her glamourous, bitchy elder sister and ignored by her parents. The acting and characterisation is excellent and the ending is quite shocking when it comes. However some of the sexual scenes are quite graphic and would probably be interpreted as being sleazy and distasteful if the director was male. The fractious relationship between the two sisters is portrayed particularly well by the two young actresses and it is this aspect of the film that makes it a memorable one ,not the controversial sex scenes.
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A Ma Soeur! [2001] [DVD]
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