Happening, in its almost raw portrayal of what it was like to get an abortion outside of a medical office, is a clinch-worthy reminder of what life for women used to be in some places, and still is in others.

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Happening, in its almost raw portrayal of what it was like to get an abortion outside of a medical office, is a clinch-worthy reminder of what life for women used to be in some places, and still is in others.

Director(s) Audrey Diwan
Screenplay By Audrey Diwan, Marcia Romano
Date Released 1/22/2022
Where To Watch Film Festival (Sundance Film Festival)
Genre(s) Drama, Young Adult, Non-English (French), Historical
Duration 100 Minutes
Content Rating Not Rated
Noted Cast
Anne Anamaria Vartolomei

Film Summary

When we meet Anne, her life is perfectly balanced. She is one of the top students in her class and has a healthy social life. Heck, her relationship with her mom isn’t terrible either. However, with getting pregnant in 1963 France, she finds herself dealing with a constant barrage of doctors who’d rather damn her to coerced motherhood than help. So, she seeks out whatever means possible to live life on her own terms.

Cast & Character Guide

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.


With a focus on teaching, if not literature, Anne was an academic powerhouse in school. But one fun time with a boy could potentially derail all that since the only option to no longer be pregnant is someone who isn’t a medical professional.

Other Noteworthy Information

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Nudity, depictions of abortions, blood, sounds that can disturb you



It’s Make You Clinch, Flinch, and More

The key thing to keep in mind, especially when it comes to Vartolomei’s performance, is desperation. The fear of having a child you don’t want and potentially ruining a whole person’s life due to a mistake you made. It’s traumatic. Hence, Anne is willing to try to induce a miscarriage herself and even go to someone’s home to hope they could maybe induce a miscarriage. While, by the way, knowing if a doctor deems her as having an abortion, she could go to jail!

It is a lot to think about, and it makes her attempts to get rid of the child all the more intense. Not just because of her reasons but also seeing her, no pants, with a sharp thin object or medical instrument disappearing from view, and hearing Vartolomei’s screams. It’s more disturbing than most horror films we’ve seen and will make you flinch, clinch, what have you, more than any action movie with brutal violence.

What you get from Happening is the kind of reaction that most films try to achieve but simply don’t.

On The Fence

Feeling Like We Really Didn’t Get To Know Anne

Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei) dancing
Anamaria Vartolomei appears in Happening by Audrey Diwan, an official selection of the Spotlight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by IFC Films.
All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

While we see Anne has friends, learn she is interested in teaching, then literature, and has an up and down relationship with her mom, I wouldn’t say Anne is written to be on par with what she is going through. Her pregnancy and attempts to miscarriage quickly eclipse anything you learn about Anne and completely drowns out the supporting cast. The only thing you are left with is the image of her attempting to miscarry and the way you winced as she did her best to kill what was trying to grow inside of her.


Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Sadly, the best thing Happening does is provide a visual of what life is like for those with limited or no reproductive rights. Outside of that? The characters are just vessels for the depiction of the horror and bless the cinematographer for knowing what angles to have to not overtly expose Vartolomei but give you enough to, even as a man, clench and grimace.

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Anne heating an object in hopes of giving herself an abortion.
Happening (2021) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
Anyone who wants to show what life is like for many women worldwide due to either no, or a limited ability to have a legal and safe abortion.
It's Make You Clinch, Flinch, and More
Feeling Like We Really Didn't Get To Know Anne

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