Focus: Catherine Breillat

Catherine Breillat

The female continent

Catherine Breillat is a difficult paradox to place. On the one hand, it responds to the old cliché of “the French woman”, completely liberated sexually, and at the same time remains an anomaly in the supposedly exemplary French system. From the beginning: his first novel, L’Homme facile, published when he was 17 years old in the middle of May 1968, was forbidden to those under 18… And to the end: if before El último verano (2023 ) hadn’t shot anything since Abus de faiblesse (2013) not because she felt powerless after a stroke, but because they didn’t want her. It has always been like this, before it was very uncomfortable that it was a woman who had such a raw and brutal vision of sex and its ghosts; in the age of #MeToo, their rants against privacy coordinators are also disturbing. And it’s not that she wanted to feel flattered either: if she was accused of being pornographic, she hired Rocco Siffredi.

In his tireless exploration of (heterosexual) female desire, Breillat has managed to keep intact his curiosity and his independence, which is strange at 75 years old. She, who overthrew the woman as an object to make her the subject of sexual inquiries, full of frights and pleasures, always carried to their last consequences, has remained linked to adolescence, the period transgressor par excellence, where fear and attraction intertwine and the doors of mystery are left ajar. That is why, in her latest film, Léa Drucker not only feels fascinated by a teenager, bordering on incest, but also gets red in the cheeks for doing so. Through cinema, with camera in hand, Breillat continues in a self-discovery that has no limits, as immense, diverse and complex as the female continent.

-Phillip Engel

With the collaboration of


Philipp Engel
Philipp Engel

Cultural journalist specialized in film and literature. He regularly collaborates with media such as La Vanguardia, El Mundo, Cinemanía or Sofilm. He has curated the CCCB exhibition "Subúrbia. La construcció del somni americà".