In the early sixties, in France, a young woman decides to make her way in life by going to university. Unfortunately, during one of her sexual adventures, she becomes pregnant and this could restrict her entire future career. The problem? Abortion is illegal.
Marcey Romano and director Audrey Diwan herself adapt the novel of the same name published by French writer Annie Ernaux in 2000, based on her own personal experience. Romano has nearly 40 screenplays, while Diwan has eight, so between the two of them they form a fairly solvent team to bring out this story as hard as necessary, especially in these times in which we live a clear setback in all kinds of rights.
When I see a film that deals with the subject of clandestine abortion I almost always think of Tiempo de silencio, in that terrible chapter in which the doctor treats a woman in a shack without any kind of hygiene, although it is most likely that neither Ernaux nor the screenwriters are familiar with the Spanish novel. In Diwan’s film the situation is somewhat less sordid, because at least the place is clean, but it is still a terrible situation in which the protagonist is not even allowed to moan when the abortion is being performed so as not to alert the neighbors.
Diwan has only directed two films with this one, but even so he shows he is quite talented and has a good command of the camera and the perspective from which he wants to tell his story. In this case, what he does is to introduce us fully into the life of the protagonist, with a camera that is often glued to her. So close that it is totally explicit in the two abortion attempts, the one she tries herself with a knitting needle and the one performed by the clandestine doctor. The action is also framed by that soundtrack, so central European, in which we only hear a piano key, as a fulminating note that marks a tempo of distress and pain.
To tell this hard story, the director relies mainly on the leading actress, Anamaria Vartolomei, on whom all the action pivots, and who embroiders her role as a woman who sees how the world comes down on her because of this unexpected “event”. And she does it without much fuss or fuss, all with the correctness of a young woman from that France that was presumed to be modern, but in reality was not so modern.
In short, a very good (and very hard) film that won the well-deserved Golden Lion at the 78th Venice Film Festival.