Combustible Celluloid
With: Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet Klein, Sandrine Bonnaire, Louise Orry-Diquero, Louise Chevillotte, Pio Marmaï, Anna Mouglalis, Fabrizio Rongione, Luàna Bajrami, Leonor Oberson, Julien Frison, Alice de Lencquesaing
Written by: Audrey Diwan, Marcia Romano, Alice Girard, based on a novel by Annie Ernaux
Directed by: Audrey Diwan
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing material/images, sexual content and graphic nudity
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 100
Date: 05/13/2022

Happening (2022)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Arriving just over a week since the Supreme Court leaked that they were likely to overturn Roe v. Wade, the French film Happening is alarmingly timely. Based on a 2000 autobiographical novel by Annie Ernaux and directed by Audrey Diwan, the film tells the story of a promising student, Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei), who finds herself pregnant after a casual dalliance. Unfortunately it's France in 1963, and abortions are illegal. Even mentioning the word out loud causes people to panic, as if Big Brother were listening. Anne struggles through her first 12 weeks, unable to speak to loved ones or friends and unable to find help, until help does arrive. The only way to describe what happens then is "awful." Less formally inventive than similar films like 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days or Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Happening tells its story in a straightforward manner, almost docu-realistic manner, complete with hand-held camerawork. It directly captures the crippling barbarism of a system that cares not a bit about human beings, as well as men whose limited vision allows them to only see Anne in one of two ways. This movie is the entire argument against overturning Roe.

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