(CONTAINS SPOILERS-The ending is discussed) Another stunningly strange film from Catherine Breillat, director of Romance, Anatomy of Hell and Real Young Girl. The plot concerns two sisters the older one, Elena who is about 14 or 15, and is thin and beautiful, and the younger,Anais, who is 12, is fat. While on vacation they meet a law student and Elena begins a dangerous flirtation with the young man. This quickly leads to several secret night time visits to the girls room as Anais watches her sister and her paramour. Tension grows between the girls as Anais longs for the affection that her sister is getting. I should state I'm not a fan of Catherine Breillat. I find her films shocking and silly. Clearly she's going for an effect, which she usually achieves, and which is usually dissipated by the the lack of anything behind it (to paraphrase some one famous she presents the obvious by way of the scandalous). Here for example we have several scenes of intimacy between Elena and her beau, which are filmed in long almost painful takes that simulate Anais watching from across the room. The scenes are edgy for what they are showing and uncomfortable since the girl involved is 14 or 15. (Anais is suppose to be 12. Though both seem older.) For me the scenes went from intriguing to uncomfortable to dull rather quickly as they seemed to just drag on. To me the scenes would have worked better had we gotten to know the two girls more at the start. Certainly a later scene where the pair shows affection for each other adds a great deal the relationship between the pair, but for me it was too late to affect the early sex scenes. Breillat also goes for effect when she has the mother drive the girls home and we have what seems like a two hour ride with the three women in the car moving in and out of traffic. Its grand foreshadowing and she builds tension for an event that never comes while at the same time keeping you sleepy enough that when the final bit comes you're completely unprepared. I have to tell you what that was but nothing that happens in the preceding 80 minutes prepared me for the unintentionally funny conclusion of this film. Many people find the sudden and shocking turn of events horrify and unnerving and the very end is, however what sparks that is simply very silly, and it was so out of left field, so bizarre, so ridiculous that the boredom of the long car sequence was sent packing as I doubled over in a fit of laughter. I can not and could not believe that anyone would do what Breillat does. Its a shock technique that doesn't belong in this film or a film like this which no doubt why so many people are horrified by it. Even if this were the sort of film that it might belong in, no one would do it as silly as here. What bothers me is that it leads up to a disturbing event that, and we should be really shocked and rattled to our core but for me it was wildly undercut in its power because what it took to get us there was so contrived and so ludicrous it runs the final bit. I don't know what deeper meaning was behind it all, certainly the rivalry between sisters and sexual longing and such,but I got no hidden truth, nothing I didn't know before. I'm sure it has something with Anais' statements about sex, then again it could be the most forceful statement of what many consider a slasher films morality, namely sex is bad. To be honest I had my cage rattled a bit, but to what end? Perhaps had I been a girl with a sister or two this might have meant something to me, but as it stands now its a dullish movie with a WTF ending. I'd leave this review there except I have to say something about the best thing in this film, namely the two girls the story revolves around. They are both stunning beautiful and damn fine actresses. The interplay between them is very real and I would love to see them paired up again, in a better film. To be honest they are so good that I will probably watch this again to see them interact (especially in the secrets scene) 4 out of 10 (I was tempted to say 5 out of ten but the ending really strikes me as too silly- a great moment-but for all the wrong reasons. I think the end is what sealed this films doom)
Two sisters confront their sexual attitudes and experiences while on a family holiday.
June 14, 2020