A bolder, racier debut film is difficult to imagine. Une vraie jeune fille is an adaptation of Breillat’s novel Le soupirail, about a tumescent adolescent home for summer break and quelling her countryside ennui with the exploration of her maturing body. Shelved for twenty-five years due to its transgressive views on sexuality and to its balking producers, the film featured newcomer Charlotte Alexandra (future star of soft-core porn Emmanuelle 3) in a fearless performance as the sullen, long-lashed, doll-faced Alice Bonnard, whose teenage juices start flowing when she sets eyes on Jim (Hiram Keller from Fellini Satyricon), a quiet hunk with ripped abs and pillow lips, working on her father’s struggling sawmill. Silent, shirtless and sweaty, Jim induces Alice into wild, secretion-filled fantasies, which include her philandering father, chicken feathers wedged in her fanny and, in one indelible instance, a squiggly worm. As if conjured directly from a fourteen-year-old girl’s unbridled imagination, Une vraie jeune fille is a surrealist fantasy, replete with puke, penises and pop songs written by Breillat and Mort Schuman especially for the film. Shot in the gorgeous blue-sky, tall-grass Landes region in southern France, the film exudes summertime fun, with enough naughty to make just about anyone blush. “Crude, unpolished, yet curiously dreamy . . . It attempts to fuse the realism of Colette with the visionary filth of Georges Bataille” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times). “A hymn of adolescent liberation” (J. Hoberman). –Tiff Cinémateque
Author and filmmaker Catherine Breillat has gained a reputation as one of the most controversial women in contemporary arts and letters for her work, which often focuses on the erotic and emotional lives of young women, as told from the woman’s perspective. Born in Bressuire, France, in 1948, Breillat developed a reputation for challenging public mores early on; at the age of 17, she published her first novel, L’homme facile, which became a cause célèbre for its blunt language and open depiction of sexual subject matter. The controversy generated by L’homme facile gave Breillat enough recognition that she was able to pursue a career as a writer, and between 1968 and 1975, she published three novels and a stage drama, as well as making her acting debut with a small role in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris. In 1975, Breillat moved behind the camera by writing, designing, and directing Une vraie jeune fille, which was adapted from one of Breillat’s… read more
Breillat's taboo-breaking debut is an interesting but extremely difficult viewing experience. The film follows the sexual awakening of a French teenager during a summer vacation spent with her parents in their countryside home and employs shocking and uncompromising surreal imagery. My reaction to the film was similar to my reaction to Pasolini's Salò: I'm glad I've seen it, but I won't be rushing to watch it again..