Director Catherine Breillat, who courted international controversy with her film Romance, once again pushed the envelope with this disturbing (if somewhat less explicit) look at adolescent sexuality.
Anaïs (Anaïs Reboux) is a 12-year-old girl with a weight problem and a downbeat disposition growing up in a family which offers her little in the way of understanding and affection.
Anaïs has a typically adolescent love/hate relationship with her slimmer and prettier 15-year-old sister, Elena (Roxane Mesquida); she's at once fascinated by her sister (and the boys who follow her around), and hates her for the love and attention she receives from others.
While the family spends the summer at the beach, Elena attracts the attentions of Fernando (Libero de Rienzo), a college student from Italy who makes no secret of his attraction to Elena's budding sexuality.
Anaïs, on the other hand, is forced to make do with a sad game in which she pretends that a ladder and a diving board at a neighborhood swimming pool are two suitors vying for her affections.
Anaïs shares a room with Elena, and finds herself a fascinated, if troubled, witness as Fernando uses both charm and deceit to rob her sister of her virginity, while Elena is too naïve to see through the lies Fernando is spinning -- and enjoys having Anaïs as an audience for her steadily advancing sex play with Fernando.
Anaïs is more aware than her older sister of Fernando's insincerity, but she finds Elena isn't eager to believe her.