"Romance" is the story of Marie (Caroline Ducey), a young teacher who has a boyfriend who is a male model. Since they have been living together he has backed away from having sexual relations. Although she craves sex he is turned off by the thought and abstention is their current sexual status. She seeks out sexual encounters while remaining in the relationship with her boyfriend. She picks up someone in a club and they plan an encounter the next day. Her headmaster seems supportive, but that support evolves into a sadomasochistic encounter with him. She also has a casual encounter on the street on her way home one day. After all of these encounters she has returned to the boyfriend. For her encounter with the headmaster, she dresses in red. Until this point white had been her color of choice. Whether it is the dress or something else, the boyfriend wants to have sex and she becomes pregnant from the one encounter. At the doctor's office, all the residents (male and female) as well as the doctor give her a vaginal examination. This scene seems violent, or at least a violation. In her relationship with her boyfriend, the violence takes on an emotional character. At a club one night, the boyfriend dances sensually with others, totally ignoring her, and that makes her angry. When she leaves in the morning he is asleep. She turns on the gas and after she has left the apartment it explodes and burns. Marie goes into labor. The headmaster is present and is passing himself off as the father. We see the birth, and for the first time Marie feels and expresses visually a different kind of pleasure. In our discussion of "Romance" we will focus on the birthing scene that concludes the film.
"Fat Girl" (2001)
"Fat Girl" is in some ways Breillat's most shocking film. Two sisters are on vacation in the southwest with their parents. It is off season. The main character, Anai's Pingot (Anai's Reboux), is the fat girl of the title. She is the younger sister and clearly suffers because her sister, Elena (Roxane Mesquida), is beautiful. Elena is impulsive in love. She picks up a young Italian law student, Fernando (Libero De Rienzo), and proceeds into the relationship as if he were the love of her life. Elena 293 is cruel to her sister, blaming Anais and belittling her for her eating, all the while forcing her to eat to shut her up. Anai's is also the scapegoat for her mother and father. The height of Elena's cruelty is the fact that she invites Fernando into her bed while sharing a room with Anais. Her sexual initiation with Fernando is witnessed by Anai's. When Elena loses her virginity to Fernando, Anai's is again a witness. There is no end to the emotional torment of her older sister. All the while, Anai's is curious about her own developing sexuality. A family crisis develops when Fernando's mother arrives to reclaim a ring Fernando gave Elena to coax her into bed with him. Anai's' father has already returned to work, and her mother retreats from the humiliation by cutting short the vacation and returning home. The mother is particularly punitive to Anai's, who becomes car sick on the way home. The car ride is long, and the number of trucks on the road seems to make the ride more dangerous. The mother passes many trucks, but as night falls she tires and pulls into a rest stop to sleep. A truck also pulls into the rest stop, and the driver eyes them. Later the driver attacks them in their car. He axes Elena to death and chokes the mother to death. Anai's witnesses the killings and tries to escape, but the killer takes her into the woods and rapes her. The film ends with the police recovering Anai's and her denial of being touched. The scene we will focus on is the drive toward home, the killings, and the rape. The end of the film can be experienced as the culmination of the war between men and women for power, in this case on the road. The scene can also be read as a projection of Anai's' anger toward her sister and mother for their persistent persecution of Anai's. She has not caused either of them any harm but they still hurt her.
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