Happening (2022) Film Review A

“Happening” (“L’évènement”) is an Abortion Drama Made for Our Times.

Now that the Supreme Court looks like it is about to overturn Roe v. Wade, the haunting French abortion drama Happening” (the French title is the more expressive “L’évènement”) strikes a double blow at our collective consciousness. Beautifully directed and co-written by Audrey Diwan, from an autobiographical novel by Annie Ernaux, the movie boasts one of the most startling breakout performances in recent years from French – Romanian actress Anamaria Vartolomei

Happening 2022


Set in 1963, when abortion was still illegal in France (not until 1975 would French women obtain power over their bodies), Vartolomei plays Anne, a gifted student in her early twenties who wants to be a writer. Her mom and dad (Sandrine Bonnaire plays the mom) run a small restaurant. They know that Anne’s horizons have expanded beyond their world, and every spare franc is put away to further Anne’s education.

Happening 2022

Provincial France

It is provincial France, and Anne lives in a women’s dorm where she attends classes and occasionally hangs out with her two best friends. Then, suddenly, she is pregnant. We are not privy to the moment of conception or (for most of the movie) who is the father. We know that Anne is sure she does not want this baby. This is effortlessly conveyed by Vartolomei’s beautifully subdued yet compelling performance. At first, Anne seems almost blasé about the whole thing. But, as the clock ticks (we get a reminder of the weeks on the screen), she has no choice but to suffer indignity at the hands of the state and one sexist male doctor after another.

Happening 2022

The Weeks Pass

As the weeks pass and Anne begins to “show’” we know that her time is running out and any attempt at a backstreet abortion is now becoming increasingly dangerous. And she has no one to talk to. Not her parents and friends, who each turn their back on her. At least the protagonists in those other two superb abortion dramas – Christian Mungiu’s “4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days” from 2007 and Eliza Hittman’s “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” from 2020- had some form of friendly support.


It’s that year. 1963. Ian McEwan wrote his novel “On Chesil Beach” in 1962. The year before, “everything” changed. The two central characters in McEwan’s novel are destroyed by becoming newlyweds one year too early. However, despite Anne’s rejection by society, the medical profession, and the state, there is always something in Vartolomei’s performance that keeps you optimistic that, just maybe, there is a new world coming.


Popular Articles

There Was A Crooked Man (1970) Film Review    B+

There Was A Crooked Man (1970) Film Review B+

Hume Cronyn and John Randolph are our happy and well-adjusted gay couple. Yes, they fight and bicker all the time. However, they are clearly madly in love with each other.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) Film Review  A+

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) Film Review A+

In “Kind Hearts and Coronets”: Alec Guinness has fun playing all eight (or nine) of the unfortunate D’Ascoynes, including Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne. The photograph shows Dennis Price with Joan Greenwood who plays that little minx Sibella.

Subscribe for the latest reviews right in your inbox!