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Happening (2021)

JoeStemme

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Sep 2, 2019
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Joseph
Title: Happening

Genre: Drama, History

Director: Audrey Diwan

Cast: Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet Klein, Luàna Bajrami, Louise Orry-Diquéro, Pio Marmaï, Sandrine Bonnaire, Cyril Metzger, Anna Mouglalis, Fabrizio Rongione, Julien Frison, Alice de Lencquesaing, François Loriquet, Louise Chevillotte, Leonor Oberson, Louis Bédot, Isabelle Mazin, Eric Verdin, Édouard Sulpice, Leila Muse, Madeleine Baudot

Release: 2021-11-24

Runtime: 100

Plot: Annie, a bright young student, is facing an unwanted pregnancy in 1960s France, when abortion is still illegal.

Like it's lead character, Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei), Director Audrey Diwan's HAPPENING is direct, strong and decisive. Anne is a very promising literature student who finds herself pregnant after a fling with a visiting student. The place is France in the early 60s when having a procedure to abort a baby is strictly illegal. Her closest friends and doctor want nothing to do with her plans - especially, her doctor, who's very counsel could land him in jail.

Diwan's adaptation of Annie Ernaux's novel feels immediate, adopting an almost you are there approach (the script was co-written by Diwan and a trio of other writers). While it's certainly not a documentary construct, it's very much a drama, but it feels real. Laurent Tangy's hand-held camera is like an intimate partner to Diwan's vision. The active tense title is very much on point here (the French title also translates into “The Event”).

Vartolomei is quite excellent. She is often the only character on screen and her performance never seems studied, simply inhabited. The others in the cast are always believable even if they don't have time to really develop. Anna Mouglalis is particularly memorable as the blunt Mme.Riviere, and legendary European actress Sandrinne Bonnaire is on hand as Anne's mother.

HAPPENING gets quite explicit at times, but never feels in the least exploitative. The screenplay is also admirable in that it never preaches. Diwan follows her character on her own terms all the way through. It's a difficult movie, but an extremely worthy one.

It's currently streaming on AMC+ and for rent on all the usual services. It will be on DVD and Blu Ray on September 6th.
 

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