May 15, 2022
By: Nicholas Ruhrkraut | May 13th, 2022

Audrey Diwat delivers a harrowing portrait of a woman's unwavering journey in “Happening,” a film that took home the Venice Film Festival's highest honor, the Golden Lion, when it premiered last year.

Apart from the costumes, glass bottles of Coca Cola being served at the town dance, and lack of cell phones, the 1960’s France being portrayed doesn’t feel too far off from our current reality. The major difference- which is still the case in 24 countries and an increasing number of states in the United States- is that abortion remains illegal. The movie’s release unintentionally aligned with the Supreme Court’s leaked decision to overturn Roe v. Wade reinforces the necessity for movies like 'Happening' to be made; movies that advocate for the inequity women have always faced with having deserved control of their own bodies.

After getting pregnant, Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei) searches for the means of having an abortion so that she can continue her studies at university and escape to a better life. First she asks her doctor, who adamantly denies the request, saying that “[most doctors] don’t think it’s a woman’s choice.” The next doctor she consults lies to her in prescribing a medication not to abort, but to strengthen the pregnancy. Title cards further increase the tension, noting every passing week that Anne is unsuccessful while other parts of her life- education, friendships, mental and physical health- deteriorate. The tragic moments that follow are captured with such a careful, visceral, and impactful lens that empathy for Anne comes freely and wholeheartedly.

'Happening' is an objectively bleak yet beautiful film that shows the struggles of a woman trying to maintain her own agency to reiterate that restricting abortion access only creates a more harmful environment for those seeking necessary care.

'Happening' Opens in NY & LA theaters on May 6th and Expanding nationally on May 13th, 2022.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Nick Nicholas Ruhrkraut (Contributor) lives in New York City but is a Midwestern boy at heart. He loves discussing everything film on his podcast "Oscar Wild," cooking and baking at home, reading, and traveling.
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