At a time when abortion is still a controversial issue, where the ratio of HIV infections in people under 25 increases by the day and where some systems insist on abstinence as the only form of sexual education; Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl must seem like the devil.
Its idea that people, make that pre-adolescent women, have the right and capacity to make choices about their sexuality sounds shocking now, so imagine how it was eight years ago when the movie was released. Banned by the Ontario Film Review, prohibited in Singapore and left unrated in the United States, the film's themes left audiences and critics baffled, but for all the wrong reasons.
It is not that the movie has things we haven't seen before (although full frontal male nudity continues to be scandalous in this day and age) but that once again Breillat completely de-eroticized sexual acts and gave them cerebral capacities. Sex in her movies isn't a place of unlimited, if frowned upon, pleasure, but a source of utter empowerment or self destruction.
When 12 year old Anaïs (Anaïs Reboux) says
I want my first time to be with someone I don't lovemost conservative people would fly away from the movie thinking of ways to prevent their kids from even knowing films like these exist. What they fail to see is that inside their homes, their children are already thinking things like that and like Anaïs they engage in innocent sexual games that help them cope with their transition from children to adults.
When Anaïs creates sexual tension between a pool ladder and a diving board, you know there is more to child's play than what's going on here. But all the other characters in the movie fail to see this and ignore her needs. By the time the film reaches its controversial finale (one of the most ingenious metaphors in contemporary film history) the girl isn't so much of a cautionary tale, as she's an inspiration.
Just because we choose to ignore something doesn't mean it isn't there.