Naissances (2010)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama  |   Run Time - 17 min.  |   Countries - Canada  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Nathan Southern

This haunting short subject by the gifted Quebecois director Anne Émond observes the brief encounter between a young woman in the first several hours following her abortion, and the handyman-cum-single dad she meets while hitchhiking. The undercurrents of the material revolve around the female character's recalcitrance in acknowledging her termination to this acquaintance, and perhaps also to herself; instead, she tells him that she's expecting. This picture is a surprise: made in-between Émond's Sophie Lavoie and Nuit #1, it lacks the cerebral quality of those other films, and also the stylistic economy. Instead, it strives for a greater spatiotemporal realism - a sense of liberation in the contemporary settings, which create visual poetry via their mundane specificity. Tonally, it achieves a delicate lyricism - a strain of poignant, unexpectedly sweet irony that filters through the central deception and colors the two characters' exchanges, making this a tender and surprisingly effective love story. Often, little is said verbally, but a great deal of communication passes in silence. The motivations behind the deceit are perplexing, but not in any klutzy or inept way (indeed, not a single moment of the behavior rings untrue); rather, in the mold of a film unafraid to put a complex, multilayered character center-stage and let us try to figure her out. Is she in some state of somatic denial (as some real-life women have experienced in their immediate post-abortion periods) or deliberately deceiving this man? We never quite figure it out, but therein lies the film's fascination. This work is particularly noteworthy because the young writer-director shows a full understanding of the court-metrage as a form - she realizes that short subject films are far better used to establish a tone, a theme, a mood, an emotional thread, than to tell a feature-length story. As a result, many film students could benefit immensely from studying this terse yet extraordinary opus.