Review: Happening (2022 Sundance Film Festival)

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Title: Happening
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Audrey Diwan
Starring: Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet Klein, Luàna Bajrami
Runtime: 1 hr 40 mins

What It Is: Anne Duchesne (Vartolomei) is a bright and intelligent young woman growing up in 1960’s France. She goes to school and tends to stay by herself unless she’s hanging out with her close friends. When it is suddenly uncovered that she is pregnant there aren’t many choices for Anne. Especially not in France and especially not in the 1960s. As she contemplates the possibility of two life-changing decisions one thing becomes clear…her life will never be the same.  

What We Think: Oooooweee this is such a great flick. It can be a daunting task to get “the abortion film” correct and this never loses its message or plays dumb to the audience. It’s an honest portrayal and we are with the character of Anne the whole time. Wanting nothing more than to help her achieve her goal or not. Depending on how you feel. Based on Annie Ernaux’s novel it is Anne’s agonizing over what’s the best move that you as the audience will take with you. Stunning and a stark examination of how far a place like France has come in reproductive rights and how far we have to go.

Our Grade: B+, If there’s a surprise that shouldn’t surprise anyone this film is it. Grabbing tons of attention at Cannes I found myself drowning in the atmosphere the cinemtography creates. My main gripe is that the time period isn’t all that clear. Sure there’s no cellphones or computers but it never seems like the ’60s on the whole. The costuming is part of that. It looking and feeling dreamy in aesthetic causes the ambiguity. It really is sort of a nitpick but one that sticks out against the great script and solid directing.

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