Catherine Breillat‘s 2001 film, Fat Girl, is, above all things, a mood piece.
A brutal tale of sexual awakening, with a sense of dread that hangs onto every scene, leading to that powerful and complicated ending.
It’s in the way that Breillat places subtle ominous tones into the sound mix.
It’s in the haunting songs that the fat girl of the title hums and sings to herself.
It’s in a David Bowie song that lingers on the soundtrack a bit longer than it should.
Once the two central characters are on their way back to Paris with their mother – after the humiliation that the oldest sister endures, the tone shifts to one of complete suspense and impending doom.
Almost unbearable, but looking back on everything leading up to this point, we should have known this was coming.
All the pretty things are going to Hell.
And in the end, the hero of the title walks away empowered, in total control of her body, her sexuality. And we, the audience, are left to wrestle with the implications of what we have just witnessed.
And as the credits roll, it’s those uncanny elements of horror that linger on, both premonitory and in the reality of the film, there, on the screen.