Anais is twelve and bears the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her body is both a fortress and the citadel for her pain. Huddled safely alone, and forgotten by others, she has long been an observer. It's summertime. Anais and her family holiday by the sea. In this atmosphere, Anais yearns for the experience of first love. However, she experiences it by proxy when her beautiful older sister, Elena - whom Anais both loves and hates - gets involved with an older boy. Soon Elena's naive hopes of romance will be shattered. Not realising that she has merely become an object of desire, she sets a chain of events in motion that will shatter her family forever...
Genuinely edgy film-making by Breillat. She probes away at the viewer's assumptions about teeenage female sexuality, and about the casual cruelty of the bourgeois family unit.
The grudging tenderness between the sisters is the only true warmth on display. The opening dialogue between the pair sets up the calculated shock of the ending, which represents the most horrific irony.