Venice Golden Lion winner Audrey Diwan’s furiously empathetic drama brings a sickening, time-consuming urgency to the plight of a young student. Anne (a convincing Anamaria Vartolomei) is faced with the choice between carrying an unplanned pregnancy to term, to the detriment of her considerable academic hopes, ambitions and promise, or risking imprisonment or worse by seeking an illegal abortion in the street.
The film, adapted from the autobiographical novel of the same name by Annie Ernaux, is set in northern France in the early 1960s. It is quite timely, however, both in approach – the details of the period are deliberately minimized – and in the themes. The film opens in the UK the same month Kentucky became the first US state to “completely and immediately” block access to redundancies.
Event is a visceral and confronting experience: the dispassionate procedural depictions of two attempted dismissals are nigh insurmountable and grueling. But the real power of the film does not come from the brutal assault of these scenes, which correspond to those of Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy The tribe for unflinching horror, but of the emotional connection Diwan skillfully creates between Anne and an audience that finds themselves living through their trauma rather than just watching it.