Breillat was born in Bressuire, Deux-Sèvres, but grew up in Niort. She decided to become a writer and director at the age of 12 after watching Ingmar Bergman's Gycklarnas afton, believing she had found her "'fictional body'" in Harriet Andersson's character, Anna.
She started her career after studying acting at Yves Furet "Studio d'Entraînement de l'Acteur" in Paris together with her sister, actress Marie-Hélène Breillat (born 2 June 1947) in 1967. At the age of 17, she had her novel, l'Homme facile, (Easy Man) published. The French government banned it for readers under 18 years old. A film based on the novel was made shortly after the publication of the book, but the producer went bankrupt and the distributor Artedis blocked any commercial release of the film for twenty years although it had been given an R rating.
Breillat is known for films focusing on sexuality,] intimacy, gender conflict and sibling rivalry. Breillat has been the subject of controversy for her explicit depictions of sexuality and violence. She cast the pornstar Rocco Siffredi in her films Romance (Romance X, 1999) and Anatomie de l'enfer (Anatomy of Hell, 2004). Her novels have been best-sellers.
Her work has been associated with the Cinéma du corps/Cinema of the Body tendency.
Breillat suffered a stroke in 2004.
In 2007, Breillat met notorious conman Christophe Rocancourt, and offered him a leading role in a movie that she was planning to make, based on her own novel Bad Love, and starring Naomi Campbell. Soon after, she gave him€25,000 to write a screenplay titled La vie amoreuse de Christophe Rocancourt ("The Love Life of Christophe Rocancourt"), and over the next year and a half, would give him loans totalling an additional €678,000. In 2009, a book written by Breillat was published, in which she alleged that Rocancourt had taken advantage of her diminished mental capacity, as she was still recovering from her stroke. The book is titled Abus de faiblesse, a French legal term usually translated as "abuse of weakness". In 2012, Rocancourt was convicted of abuse de faiblesse for taking Breillat's money, and sentenced to prison. As of mid-2011, although Breillat had moved on to other projects, she still hoped to film Bad Love, but had not yet been able to find financing to do so. However, somewhat ironically, a film adaptation of Abus de faiblesse, directed by Breillat and starring Isabelle Huppert, began production in 2012, and is expected to be released in 2013.
In September 2010, Breillat's second fairy-tale based film, Sleeping Beauty (La belle endormie), opened in the Orizzonti sidebar in the 67th Venice Film Festival.
|Year||English title||Original title||Notes|
|1976||A Real Young Girl||Une Vraie Jeune Fille||Based on Breillat's novel Le Soupirail. Banned after initial premiere, until 1999.|
|1979||Nocturnal Uproar||Tapage nocturne|
|1988||Virgin / Junior Size 36||36 Fillette||Based on her novel.|
|1991||Dirty Like an Angel||Sale comme un ange|
|1996||Perfect Love||Parfait amour!|
|2001||Fat Girl||À ma sœur!|
|2001||Brief Crossing||Brève traversée|
|2002||Sex Is Comedy||Sex Is Comedy|
|2004||Anatomy of Hell||Anatomie de l'enfer||Based on her novel Pornocratie.|
|2007||The Last Mistress (aka An Old Mistress)||Une vieille maîtresse||Based on the novel by Jules Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly (1851). Entered into the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.|
|2009||Bluebeard||Barbe bleue||Based on the tale by Charles Perrault.|
|2010||The Sleeping Beauty||La belle endormie||Based on the tale by Charles Perrault.|
|2013 (projected)||Abuse of Weakness||Abus de faiblesse||Based on her book. Stars Isabelle Huppert.|
- Les Vêtements de mer
- Abus de faiblesse
- Le Soupirail
- L'homme facile
- Tapage Nocturne
About Catherine Breillat