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Marina Antunes [DVD News 07.09.12] France drama

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Over the years I've seen my share of movies about couples having kids and how kids change people's lives but as good or bad or funny those I've seen have managed to be, I've never felt that they were speaking to me in any concrete way. They were certainly entertaining (for the most part) but I never stepped away feeling like I'd had some inner look at the life of new parents and more specifically, a new mother. Some of it is the fact that Hollywood tends to embellish or vilify kids (depending on the angle of the story) and indie films tend to over dramatize the situation to the point where it feels unrealistic.

Enter French director Remi Bezancon and her adaptation of a novel from Eliette Abecassis. A Happy Event is exactly the kind of parenthood tale everyone should see because it walks the fine line between the comedy and drama of parenthood as well as the emotional rollercoaster that comes with being responsible for another life.


Barbara (Louise Bourgoin), or Babs as her friends call her, meets Nicolas (Pio Marmai) at the local video store. He chases her in a beautiful, humour filled montage played out in DVD titles, until she concedes. The two go out, fall in love and after some time together Nicolas suggests they have a baby. Babs agrees, knowing she wants to do this with the man she loves but blissfully unaware of everything "having a baby" entails.

As the nine months tick along, we see Babs and Nicolas slowly change. They shop for baby essentials, consult doctors, and most radically, grow up. Nicolas leaves his job at the video store for a suit and tie and a job that will better allow him to take care of his growing family. In a particularly poignant scene, the couple lye in bed and Nicolas shares the news of the new job prospect. Babs muses that this may be the end of his dream of being a filmmaker and the two ponder on that fore a moment. What they don't realize is that both of their lives and dreams are about to change.

There's much to love about A Happy Event: the frankness in which everything from family responsibilities to sexuality after birth are approached, the changing relationship between Babs and Nicolas, Babs digging her way through advice from everyone around her and finding her own way. There's a feeling of reality to all of these situations and the way with which they are dealt. Bezancon has an amazing feel for walking the fine line between drama, comedy and sentimentality and the story balances finely between the three delivering equal parts of all while never dipping too far in any one direction.

The performances from Marmai and the rest of the supporting cast are wonderful but the story rests squarely on Bourgoin. A Happy Event is, first and foremost, the story of a mother finding her footing and Bourgoin beautifully fits the role, oscillating between emotions, often cycling from happy to sad to hysterical in the span of a scene. It's not an easy task to accomplish, particularly in a film that strives so adamantly to remain realistic.

A Happy Event is wonderful, a film that is both entertaining and touching and which celebrates parenthood, and motherhood in particular, in its entirety and not just the good or bad moments. It's a story of a woman struggling to find her way in the world and also a tale of family, love and relationships. It's a movie about life.

A Happy Event is available on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, July 10th.

DVD Extras: None.

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