A Big Girl Like You

A Big Girl Like You


Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Sixteen-year-old Sabine is dissatisfied with her stultifying life in the French provinces. After quitting trade school, where she was being trained for a career in the service industries, she persuades her parents to let her leave for the bright lights of Paris, where she has aspirations of becoming a photographer, or model. But, lacking the cultural and economic wherewithal she soon finds her illusions shattered...

Christophe Blanc's feature might be summarised as a male-authored, more realistic and class-conscious take on the filmic territory Catherine Breillat has made her own with the likes of A Ma Soeur.

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Recognising that "every film about adolescence is associated with certain inescapable themes and figures, such as the search for identity, the novel of initiation, the 'world of first times' as Truffaut put it,", Blanc largely succeeds in acknowledging his influences, while finding a voice of his own. And, perhaps surprisingly for the feminists, his Sabine - played by Mercedes Ceccheto with the right mixture of confident bravado and easily exploited naivete - comes across as an altogether more credible character than many of Breillat's psychoanalytic ciphers.

If the trajectory of the narrative is obvious, it is also the right one, presenting a series of life lessons that leave Sabine older and wiser, but no clearer as to her place in society - an impression confirmed by the final, fade-to-white shot, with its clear parallels with the famous indeterminate freeze-frame ending of The 400 Blows.

All told, A Big Girl Like You is a confident, assured and mature handling of the coming of age story. It takes few risks, but gets everything more or less right.

Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2003
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A Big Girl Like You packshot
A French provincial girl grows up fast in Paris.

Director: Christophe Blanc

Writer: Christophe Blanc

Starring: Mercedes Cecchetto, Laura Locatelli, Sarah Zidhane, Jean-Yves Dubois, Nathalie Krebs

Year: 2003

Runtime: 86 minutes

Country: France


EIFF 2003

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