A HAPPY EVENT
When Barbara Dray (Louise Bourgoin), a smart and sassy post-graduate student meets romantic video salesman Nicolas Malle (Pio Marmaï), they start a passionate relationship. They are at their happiest when they make the decision to become parents. But there are many pressures and changes that take place, some much to the couple's alarm. Barbara faces the crisis of her life as her life changes physically, emotionally and psychologically. Can life ever return to normal after having a baby?
Review by Louise Keller:
Desire, love and madness leads to motherhood in this warts-and-all look at the A to Z of what happens to a woman when she has a baby. Rémi Bezançon's film involves us in the minutiae of everyday life in an intensely personal account as a pretty young student goes through the emotional wringer. In the course of the journey, there are some sweetly tender and highly observant moments, although Bezançon's use of narration is overdone and some scenes are overloaded by too much information. But there's an inherent feeling of truth about the work and performances, that will resonate especially with female audiences.
It begins as a love story, when on a snowy Paris evening, two pairs of eyes meet through the window of a video shop. A cute idea well executed sees Barbara (Louise Bourgoin) become a regular customer, hiring videos from Nicolas (Pio Marmaï). Their courtship takes place through the videos recommended and hired: A Man and A Woman, Rules of Attraction, I'm No Angel, Intolerable Cruelty, Catch Me If You Can. Then they are a couple and one day Nico blurts out 'I want us to have a baby out of love'. This is the moment of desire, love and madness.
The nine months of pregnancy are canvassed from every viewpoint beginning with the initial euphoria, the debilitating nausea, insecurities, family pressures, emotional instability and the hormonal hurricane, hilariously depicted when Barbara goes shopping for a vibrator. She feels fat, has unreasonable fears, disagrees about discovering the baby's gender, refuses to go to prenatal classes, wakes up at night and has nightmares involving water. The mother-in-law joke is alive and well in this film. The delivery room sequence is overdone, giving too much information such as an epidural and episiotomy, at which time Nico faints and ends up with a bandage on his nose.
Then the magical moment arrives that everyone is waiting for - a healthy baby girl. There's wonderment on the faces of the new mother and father as they look at each other through misty eyes. The cord is cut and the baby is put to the breast. Using music to great effect, there is no dialogue in these emotional scenes, as the miracle of life allows all the pain to be instantly deleted from conscious memory.
But this is not the end of the story. What follows are the doubts, the hormones in freefall, the sleepless nights, the tiredness and the realisation that any number of books on Why the Baby is Crying will not solve the problem. Life becomes Groundhog Day involving stinking nappies, loss of self image, a thesis put on hold, constant bickering and resentment. Watch out for the Mother's Group who approve of sexual gratification from breastfeeding and sleeping with baby. Feeling as though her vagina is simply a conduit, Barbara loses interest in sex, Nico sleeps on the couch and they drift apart. I like the scene after the inevitable separation when Barbara goes home to mother (Josiane Balasko) and at long last, over tea made from weed, they are able to have a proper mother/daughter conversation that for once involves the heart.
A Happy Event is personal and heartfelt, although the film would have benefited from a different treatment of the screenplay, in which the diary-like approach of depicting every second as it plays out does not overshadow its many strengths and qualities. Bezançon's 2008 film The First Day of The Rest of Your Life, as it portrayed family life vibrantly, delivered more completely.
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A HAPPY EVENT (MA15+)
Un heureux événement
CAST: Louise Bourgoin, Pio Marmari, Josiane Balasko, Thierry Fremont, Gabrielle Lazure, Rirmine Richard, Anais Croze
DIRECTOR: Remi Bezancon
SCRIPT: Remi Bezancon, Eliette Abecassis, Vanessa Portal
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Antoine Monod
EDITOR: Sophie Reine
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Maamar Ech-Cheikh
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 5, 2012
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