Directed by Catherine Breillat, starring Anaïs Reboux, Roxane Mesquida, Libero de Rienzo and Arsinée Khanjian.
After generating enough controversy for three careers with her 1999 film 'Romance' French director Catherine Breillat is once again pushing the boundaries of both cinema and audience with this harrowing rites of passage tale.
Not even a holiday in the Mediterranean can prevent summer from being a drag for 15-year-old Elena (Mesquida). The drag in this case is younger sister Anaïs (Reboux) who Elena must bring with her on her excursions around town. While Elena is beautiful and self-assured, Anaïs is overweight and lacks the will to stand up to her sister. With boys on both their minds, Elena meets up with a young Italian law student (de Rienzo) who promises much but treats her like dirt and starts a chain of events that lead to a devastating finale.
A word of warning: if you're easily shocked or offended this is not the film to see. Breillat may coax excellent performances from both Mesquida and Reboux but 'À Ma Soeur!' is a film which takes determination to stomach from beginning to end. The detached camera style heightens the sense of reality but it also makes the scenes all the more disturbing, with Mesquida's encounters with her onscreen lover a portent of what is to follow.
With the sisters' relationship alternating between spite and sympathy, the tender moments are inevitably cancelled out by harsh words and when the girls' mother (Khanjian) discovers what has happened you feel that any hopes for a happy ending have disappeared. The three characters then begin the long drive back to Paris, with Breillat building the tension as they bicker and the mother tries to keep her mind on the road. You expect a fatal road crash, but what arrives is far more sickening and arbitrary. Thankfully I had the chance to fast fowarding through the dénouement on a preview video copy – you, however, won't be so lucky.