100 minutes, Color
France, 1963: Abortion is illegal. The taboo is so complete that college girls live in fear of their punishable desires. Anne, a promising literature major, is somehow as fearless as she is smart, but when she finds herself pregnant, she is utterly alone against a conspiracy of silence. Anne's journey through a hostile medical establishment to the frightening alternatives is conveyed with depth—and always from her point of view—by director Audrey Diwan. Anamaria Vartolomei's Anne has a fierceness that may be private but isn't internalized: Her performance has intelligence to match her character's. Back in the day, Anne might have been played with a different fierce intensity by the formidable Sandrine Bonnaire, and grown-up Bonnaire appears here as Anne's mother. Based on a novel by Annie Ernaux, Happening is a period piece, but make no mistake: Southwestern France in 1963 might as well be Paris, Texas, in 2022.—Judy Bloch
In French with English subtitles
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