“L’événement” is the second film of the French director Audrey Diwan, mainly known for her work as a screenwriter for Cédric Jimenez’s films such as “Bac Nord”, “HHhH” or “La French”. The film is based on the autobiographical novel published in 2000 of the same name by Annie Ernaux, whom the director had the chance to meet in order to clarify certain areas of shadow and misunderstanding to deliver her own interpretation and adaptation.
“L’événement” recently won the prestigious “Golden Lion” at the 2021 Venice Film Festival against directors such as Almodovar, Campion or Sorrentino. It was also in the list of the three films shortlisted by France for the Oscars (with “Titane” by Julia Ducournau and “Bac Nord” by Cedric Jimenez) which will take place on February 25. I had the chance to see the film in preview at the Silencio-des-près in Paris, followed by a discussion between the director Audrey Diwan and Camille Froidevaux-Metterie, author, researcher and professor of political science in Paris.
The film takes place in France in 1963, and follows the story of Anne (played by Anamaria Vartolomei), a brilliant student of literature who becomes pregnant against her will. In the hope of continuing her studies and becoming a writer, she decides without any hesitation to have an abortion and embarks on a race against time during which she comes up against a system that severely condemns this practice. This system will inevitably lead to the refusal of doctors, the rejection of her friends, the incomprehension of her father and will plunge Anne into total solitude.
As a reminder, the Veil law, which decriminalized abortion in France, was not promulgated until 12 years later, on January 17, 1975. For Audrey Diwan, the Veil law brought women into the modern world, taking them out of their maternal condition and giving them total control over their bodies. Through her film, the director hopes to break the silence and shame surrounding abortion.
In “L’événement”, the importance is given to the spectator, privileged and powerless witness of Anne’s journey, remarkably interpreted by Anamaria Vartolomei (who has just been nominated as best promising actress for the Césars 2022), who is a key to the success of the film. Through her performance, she allows to recreate the strength and the horrors of the sensations felt by her character. The film is built around the weeks of Anne’s pregnancies, as if they were chapters. The more the weeks go by, the more Anne seems alone, without hope. If she does nothing, the burden that develops within her will deprive her of a future that looks bright, that will allow her to rise socially through writing.
During the intervention that followed the film, Audrey Diwan told us that she wanted to tell the story of a woman but not only for women. She wished, through the character of Anne, greatly inspired by that of Annie Ernaux, to share a character going beyond time and gender. Through this desire, she really wants to integrate the man in the debate, an idea that seems very divisive and which was strongly discussed by Camille Froidevaux-Metterie during the post-film discussion.
To support this idea and this desire to integrate the man in the question, Audrey Diwan states the idea that the legal system which condemns abortion, involves a double prohibition which weighs on everyone. The director tells us that on the one hand there are women who have illegal abortions in dangerous and in some cases fatal conditions, and on the other hand there are men and women who are powerless to come to the aid of women or risk being condemned by the courts.
‘L’événément’ is a film treated in a rather classic way but which remains very effective, where we find a violence more psychological than visual which attacks the subject of abortion head on and which works well thanks to the performance of Anamaria Vartolomei. We can see that in some countries, the subject of abortion is frequently discussed, as for example recently in the United States with the state of Texas. This film has a real importance, it allows us to remember the nothing is ever really acquired and that the laws around this subject are relatively recent.
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