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TOP 500 REVIEWERon June 23, 2007
I have seen "Anatomy of Hell" and thought it was fascinating. Brash, aggressive, meaningful, and yet ultimately absurd, "Fat Girl" is so intensely polarizing that it leaves no room for neutrality. Overweight Anaïs (Anaïs Reboux) is a heartbreakingly self-conscious 12-year-old girl who lives in the shadow of her blossoming older sister, Elena, who has fallen in love with Fernando (Libero De Rienzo), a smooth-talking lothario. When he sneaks into the girls' bedroom at night, Anaïs listens in painful detail to her sister's sexual initiation. In this scene and others, the film is so upfront and candid that it creates an uncomfortable viewing experience.

"Fat Girl" isn't a perfect movie. Many people will find it too slow, too static, not enough "happening" to keep their attention. But there is a lot going on--it's just under the skin, where most movies don't typically look. One example of the movie's insight comes when that no-good Fernando gives Elena a ring as a token of his "love", except that how he obtained it and under what pretenses only comes out later to paint the whole thing with a double layer of irony. Another moment comes when we see the sisters together, using words that are both hurtful and reassuring. They are unquestionably in competition, but they are also still sisters, and perhaps they cannot help but care about each other.

The end of "Fat Girl" contains a development so sudden and unexpected that it derails the film for many people. They actually get angry about it. They feel betrayed by the movie--betrayed that it spends so much time involving us emotionally in these characters, only to do something that seems entirely arbitrary. I felt betrayed as well, until I realized something--the betrayal we feel, as viewers, is very much the same betrayal that the girls themselves feel for having been treated so badly by their parents, by a prospective lover, and by each other. No, the ending will not work for every audience, but it has an audacity and a guiding sensibility, and it is nowhere nearly as arbitrary as you might want to think. Criterion! That one word alone should make this a must-have if you're interested in the film.
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