• Fat Girl: About the Title

    By Catherine Breillat

    The original title of my film was always Fat Girl, but since I am French and not at all bilingual, it was for reasons more mysterious than an anglicism. Of course, the little girl was fat, but the title also expressed an autism, a wall between her and the world that the foreign language reinforced. And she was not designated by her name but by her representation, “fat” and “girl.” It was something completely different from the French of “grosse fille”; it was musical sounding, like a jazz tune.

    Of course, it is easy to name someone imaginary in this way, but as for the little girl who was going to play the role, Anaïs Reboux, it was hard to tell her that, according to the title itself, she had to be fat and that that was part of the reason she had been cast. So I shot the film under two working titles, Two Girls and Two Sisters, because the other sister, Roxane Mesquida, whose character I was not fond of while working on the screenplay, was gaining in importance. Clearly, it was also a story about sisters, a story about “a soul with two bodies.” But I always wanted to come back to the first title. In my head, it had never changed.

    However, one probably knows one’s film only once it is shown to an audience. We did a preview screening with a survey. The French public was very opposed to a titre anglais, curiously suggesting The Sisters without knowing it was like one of the working titles. Influenced by that, I chose À ma soeur! (To My Sister!), with an exclamation point, which makes it a bit of a toast/battle cry to the virginity of each girl (or rather to the loss thereof).

    I liked this title too. But the exclamation point is often left out, and it’s a very French title, one that is completely untranslatable. Now I think that the first title was simpler, more basic, more real. I regret having changed it. But then, since the film was prebought under the title Fat Girl, this became the title in foreign release. I am pleased about that. In the end, I think I prefer it. In any case, it is the original title.

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