‘L’événement’ / The event [la obra de Annie Ernaux al cine por Audrey Diwan]

La Gualdra 502 / Cinema / Breakfast at Tiffany’s, mon ku

In 2000, the Gallimard publishing house published one more work by the French writer Annie Ernaux. Always in his literary line that combines autobiography with sociological analysis, in a text that rarely exceeds 100 pages. This time she was going back to one of the hardest events of her youth, her abortion.

This year 2021 the French writer was the favorite to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (finally awarded to the Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah for his political involvement) and it was also the year in which her work – strongly feminist before the feminist explosion of the MeToo – has been adapted into two films and one more as a co-set designer: Simple Passion (Danielle Arbid), J’ai aimé vivre là (Régis Sauder) and the one that concerns us here: The event / L’événement, Directed by fellow writer Audrey Diwan and winner of the Golden Lion for Best Film at the 2021 Venice Film Festival.

In 1963 Ernaux was 23 years old and was studying literature at the University of Rouen. She enjoys her sexuality freely despite the morals of her classmates. Concerned about the delay in her period, she goes to the gynecologist who confirms a pregnancy. From the beginning she is clear about it, she does not want to have it: “I was unwell, of those diseases that only happen to women, and that lead them to be housewives. I want to be a writer ”, she will explain to her professor of French literature when she asks for an extension to present her exams and when she insists on an explanation.

The film is then the chronicle of a young student who is looking for someone to help her have an abortion. Not the doctors, because they were moralists and because they were afraid of prison. Neither did her companions, fearful of morality, of death. Neither do their partners, because they understand each other’s roles. She alone has to solve it and tries it with needles, but fails. While searching and suffering from depression, she enjoys the only good thing about pregnancy, being able to enjoy sex without running the risk of getting pregnant again; until, finally, a stranger who went through the same situation gives him the address of a faiseuse d’anges (creator of angels-abortionist).

There are no doubts about Annie at any time. You have no excuses such as violation or risk to your health. His decision is simple, he wants to study and dedicate himself to writing, and at that moment he does not want a baby: “I will, I will, but not now.”

Thus, Diwan’s version adjusted to Ernaux’s work maintains the pressure for an event from 60 years ago that is now still the subject of moralistic discussions, leading the viewer to relive the anguish of a woman.

The event will be complicated and she will have to be taken to the emergency hospital; The doctor has two options, mark on the card “Abortion” or “Natural abortion”, the first implies investigation and detention, it would be a doctor judge; in the second, simply respect.

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‘L’événement’ / The event [la obra de Annie Ernaux al cine por Audrey Diwan]

Hank Gilbert