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A Real Young Girl

Catherine Breillat
Une vraie jeune fille
France 1976 / 90’
A Very Curious Girl

The debut film by one of the legends of French cinema enjoyed its first public screenings a full 24 years after it was made, riding the wave of Breillat’s international success associated with Romance. It is a rejected, forgotten, unabashed work that is too bold for the mainstream and too intelligent for pornography. Today, its boldness is astonishing, its mature artistic vision startling, its humor heartwarming. The radical, semi-autobiographical portrait of a sexually mature 14-year-old (played by then-20-year-old Charlotte Alexandra) is a fascinating attempt to take control over the gaze and the human body. A holiday in the countryside provides a juicy background for the adventures of an aroused fantasy and a story of rebellion against the church and family. Sometimes called artsploitation, Breillat’s film abounds in bold erotic scenes, whose pornographic potential is neutralized, however, by poetry, humor and politics. Breillat recognizes that female sexual awakening is subject to social control, the purpose of which is to control girls’ sexual appetite through shaming. This is what Roberto Rosselini heard when he asked the new director what she had to say about sex. “I want to talk about shame,” she replied.

Małgorzata Sadowska

Catherine Breillat

Catherine Breillat (born in 1948) is a French director, screenwriter and writer. She grew up in Niort, which was the setting for A Real Young Girl. As a 17-year-old, she wrote the scandalous novel L'homme facile (you have to be 18 or older to buy it in France), and, in 1972, she appeared in Last Tango in Paris. She has collaborated with Federico Fellini, Asia Argento, Liliana Cavani and porn star Rocco Siffredi, among others. She is a lecturer at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Uncompromising in showing real erotic relationships on-screen, she is one of the most provocative directors in contemporary cinema. Breillat’s films have competed in the Cannes and Locarno festival competitions and have been shown in Venice and Rotterdam. New Horizons has screened Anatomy of Hell (4th New Horizons), Bluebeard (9th New Horizons) and The Sleeping Beauty (11th New Horizons). 

Selected filmography

1976 Prawdziwa dziewczyna / Une vraie jeune fille / A Real Young Girl

1988 Rozmiar 36, dziewczęcy / 36 Fillette / Virgin. Junior Size 36

1991 Zbrukany anioł / Sale comme un ange / Dirty Like an Angel

1996 Idealna miłość / Parfait amour! / Perfect Love

1999 Romans / Romance

2002 Seks to komedia /Sex is comedy

2004 Anatomia piekła / Anatomie de l’enfer / Anatomy of Hell

2007 Stara kochanka / Une vieille maîtresse /  The Last Mistress

2009 Sinobrody / Barbe Bleue / Bluebeard

Cast & Crew

director Catherine Breillat
screenplay Catherine Breillat
cinematography Pierre Fattori, Patrick Godaert
editing Annie Charrier, Michele Queyroy
music Mort Shuman
cast Charlotte Alexandra, Hiram Keller, Rita Maiden
producer Guy Azzi, Pierre-Richard Muller, André Génovès
production Artédis, CB Films, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Les Films de la Boétie
sales Pyramide Films
language French
colouration colour