The worst part about the new abortion drama Happening is that it makes me think about The Happening, that awful M. Night Shyamalan thriller from back in the day. I’m literally traumatized just thinking about it. Of course, Happening isn’t The Happening, but couldn’t the people behind this French abortion drama have come up with a better title?
Anamaria Vartolomei turns in a strong performance as 23-year-old Anne, who discovers she is pregnant but doesn’t at all want to be. Unfortunately, she is in 1960s France (which could be 2020s United States soon enough), where abortion is illegal.
Happening follows Anne as she attempts to escape from an evil wind… sorry, she attempts to resolve her situation through any means necessary.
The movie, directed by Audrey Diwan and based on the novel by Annie Ernaux, is pretty straightforward, but its power lies within the emotional journey of Anne. Vartolomei conveys the internal trauma and stress her character faces as she desperately seeks to salvage her life. Anne is well written and Vartolomei’s complex performance brings her to light in convincing fashion.
All that said, the nuanced drama that is Happening is a bit too much of a nuanced drama for me. Not my jam. Nothing about this movie sunk its teeth into me, even if I believe in its message. It exists as a well-made piece of filmmaking, but beyond that, this just wasn’t the movie for me. Maybe some evil wind would have done it some good after all.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.