Up until now, films dealing with a pregnancy have usually adhered to the rule of comedy rather than the reality of what parenthood entails. Typically these fluffy mainstream films are simply made to comfort and delude expectant mothers while they stuff their faces with pints of ice cream and read What To Expect When You Are Expecting.
Renowned director Remi Bezancon takes on the task of providing audience members with a "fly on the wall" look at how a pregnancy can bring a couple closer together and then pull them apart in his third full-length feature, A Happy Event.
Barbara (Louise Bourgoin), a young grad student, falls for a video store clerk named Nicolas (Pio Marmai) and their romance blossoms after partaking in the conventional rites of passages in relationships, such as getting in paint fights and smearing shaving cream all over each other in bed. After a moment of sheer joy and madness, Barbara and Nicolas try to make a baby, and they succeed, despite the fact these two free-spirited individuals aren't financially secure.
Barbara begins to struggle with the reality of being pregnant, embracing her pregnancy one day then resenting it the next. After the birth of her child, Barbara and Nicolas must face the many hardships that come from parenthood, and their careers, sex life and relationship all start to suffer from it.
A Happy Event is the film Knocked Up strived to be. Bezancon's visual style and his uncanny ability to embrace inappropriate humour, as well as being able to showcase couples at their most vulnerable, make this film stand out from the rest.
Viewers will gasp and chuckle when seeing controversial scenes of sex from a foetus's point of view, Barbara's vibrator, which only works when she whistles, or when she asks the doctor if there are enough nutrients in sperm for the baby when she swallows during sex.
However, viewers will also wince when Barbara goes through post-partum depression and when the once blissful couple's life starts to shatter simply because they're trying to conform to society's norm of what constitutes a "happy" family.
In A Happy Event, Bezancon teaches viewers that happiness is a goal, not a privilege in life. For Barbara, it means sacrifice ― giving up alcoholic drinks for non-alcoholic piña coladas, abandoning her dreams of being a full-time writer to be a full-time mother and surrendering a passionate and fiery romance for a relationship with sexless stability. It is in these brutally honest and raw moments that the film is able to affect viewers the most, whether they like it or not.
Every film about pregnancy has taught us how stretch marks and labour pains come with the territory, however there is no antenatal massage lotion that can smooth away the emotional scars and damage caused by motherhood. Director Remi Bezancon conveys this delicate message beautifully in this admirable and touching film. (eOne)