36 Fillette (1988)

Viewed February 8th

In this Catherine Breillat film, a fourteen year old girl, both mature for her age and childishly reckless, explores sexuality and the psychology of men.  

As our heroine Lili acts out in rebellious ways without wanting to appear as a cliche of rebellion, so too does the film based on her experiences. Rarely is their such a tight resonance between the arc of a character and the rhythm of a film. Lili plunges headfirst into unorthodox situations with the aging, sophisticated Maurice and then takes a step back in order to take stock of where things have gone and if this is, in fact, where she wants to be. Sometimes that step backwards comes from a place of fearful confusion, sometimes from the calculated desire to exert power, often both at once. Likewise, Breillat enacts a similar posture. She works in concert with her protagonist to shock audiences and male critics with her unorthodox storytelling. But she does so in such a way that, just when that male critic could cast it all aside as mindless, she twists things to make sure that, first and foremost, she appears to everyone as independent and in control. And as Maurice finds this back and forth both frustrating and enticing, audiences may resent the film for various reasons but find it's rhythms compelling enough to continue following, if not becoming engrossed within.