Reviews: Review of “The event” (“L’Événement” / “Happening”), by Audrey Diwan (HBO Max)

The second feature film by the director of Mais vous êtes fous (2019), based on the famous homonymous (and autobiographical) novel by Annie Ernaux, won the Golden Lion at the 78th edition of the Mostra in 2021 with this story about the problem of abortion set in 1963. Almost two years later comes to the streaming platform HBO Max.

The event / L’Événement / Happening (France/2021). Direction: Audrey Dian. Cast: Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet-Klein, Luàna Bajrami, Louise Orry Diquero, Louise Chevillotte, Pio Marmaï, Sandrine Bonnaire, Anna Mouglalis, Leonor Oberson, Fabrizio Rongione. Screenplay: Audrey Diwan and Marcia Romano, based on the novel “L’événement” by Annie Ernaux. Photography: Laurent Tangy. Edition: Geraldine Mangenot. Music: Evgueni and Sacha Galperine. Duration: 100 minutes. Available on HBO Max.

In the blink of an eye, life is discovered as that journey that takes us through an unpredictable journey; that lurches in directions that were not even contemplated and that, in each of those changes of course, conditions everything that is yet to come. A girl contemplates what life has prepared for her and gets excited. She vibrates before the possibilities that an impeccable, brilliant, promising academic record opens for her. Her present is exactly this: the sweet promise of a better future.

Until the unforeseeable happens. A party, a meeting, a spark, a chemistry… that curdles in an unwanted setting. We are in the France of 1963; in the place and the moment in which the life of a young student begins to be conditioned by another life that is growing inside her. And, like so many other great dramas, context matters. In fact, it is fundamental: in this country and at this historical point, when a gestation process begins, it cannot be stopped.

Of course, the option of abortion is not even contemplated. Can’t even say it out loud. It’s a taboo, well, because it is heavily punished by the criminal code, but also by the whole of a society that hostilely joins the sentence. On this is based The event, the second film as a director by Audrey Diwan, in the unequal (and therefore unfair) confrontation between a person and all those around him. Her narration is fed by the constant monitoring of her protagonist; a woman condemned to loneliness.

Chilling feeling of helplessness in the face of a drama magnified by the denial of any support. yes in 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 daysby Cristian Mungiu, Laura Vasiliu had Anamaria Marinca, and if in Never, rarely, sometimes, always, by Eliza Hittman, Sidney Flanigan could count on Talia Ryder, here our eyes only meet those of Anamaria Vartolomei, terribly alone in the face of danger. The young actress has the enormous challenge of monopolizing practically all the shots of The event and corresponds with one of the most magnetic interpretations of the season.

Her gaze, in permanent and perfect balance between desperation and that determination that only survival instinct can give, is one of the best arguments of a film that also knows how to carve out an indestructible complicity with her. As the circumstances demand, The event time counts down by weeks and, as weeks go by, we see how the anguish of the countdown increases: it is the impossible fight against one’s own body; against all those who have an opinion and intend to decide on it.

This adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s memoir is executed without ever losing sight of what refuses to be lost sight of. the event it is, after all, the chronicle of a problem that should not be, and that insists on taking over every corner of the life of those who suffer from it. There it is, at home, at parties, in the classroom, even in a phone booth. There is nowhere to hide; there is no escape. Audrey Diwan films her face and body, Anamaria Vartolomei, a powerful entity that fills the entire frame, leaving no room for anyone else: there are no allies either, in this chilling via crucis.

Ideal moment to remember that the world seems to have entered a critical moment of debate concerning the latest achievements in social matters. There are those who ask us to go back; there are those who urge us to continue advancing. In this sense, Diwan must be applauded for his sense of timing: his look at the past, loaded with political combativeness, must be seen as a reminder of the horror from which some had to flee; of that injustice that should not be committed again. The event He is loaded with reasons in the construction of an empathic bond with a woman who is threatened with having to play the role of martyr.

The connection is based on a character following that combines intensity with neatness, two elements that go hand in hand but that, when the moment of truth arrives, compete for the foreground. There, when Audrey Diwan has to decide between respect for the protagonist and the impact on the audience, she opts for the latter. And there, for a few seconds, everything falls apart. And, in numerical terms, this is nothing, compared to the rest of the footage: more than an hour and a half, almost flawless. Almost. Painful reminder that each camera movement has an ethical decision behind it; that even the noblest causes can be tarnished.

More information:

Review of the film, by Diego Batlle

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