In an industry still dominated by men, cinema has been very interested in the subject of motherhood. While it is opening up more to women, the seventh art is finally trying to tell about motherhood in its various asperities: difficulties in conceiving, postpartum depression, perinatal mourning, parental burn-out or even step-parenting. And among these different female destinies, we now offer a (small) place on the screen to women who do not want to become mothers. Thus, since the 1980s, the subject of abortion has been at the center of many film productions and even rewarded with the highest distinctions in film festivals. But if the representations multiply, “the majority discourse is still relatively conservative today. Very often, the subject is often evacuated by a narrative twist, the miscarriage, or by the final desire to keep the child”, qualified Iris Brey in the columns of Télérama. Thus, without being openly anti-abortion, it is not uncommon for fictions to prevent their heroines from seriously considering abortion. A study carried out by the University of California in 2013 corroborates his remarks. Indeed, between 2003 and 2012, 116 American productions tackled the question directly. But according to another study carried out by the same University of California in 2017, which analyzed eighty American productions released between 2005 and 2016, in 37.5% of the stories where the characters choose abortion, the latter ends in complications. medical, often major (against 2.1% in reality). In 9% of cases, it even leads to the death of the characters (against about 0% in reality). The same study showed that 9% of fictional characters give their babies up for adoption, against only 1% in real life. On screen, adoption can therefore also be a way of sidestepping the question of abortion while maintaining the script interest of an unwanted pregnancy. This was particularly the case with Juno, a teen movie released in 2007, a real hit in theaters and which has become cult, to which Ninjababy has already been compared, by the Norwegian Yngvild Sve Flikke, who also tackles the subject of an unwanted pregnancy which ends by an adoption. But for us, the comparison stops there.“Your baby has fingernails”In this independent comedy-drama released in 2007, Elliot Page plays a 16-year-old girl who becomes accidentally pregnant and chooses to terminate the unwanted pregnancy. But destabilized by the remarks of an anti-abortion activist telling her that “her fetus already has nails”, Juno finally decides to keep her child to entrust him to a couple who cannot conceive. Fifteen years later, Juno, yet an undeniable cinematographic reference concerning teenage pregnancy, can also be seen as a conservative film, carrying a reactionary message. to his heroine. Abortion is neither the subject of the film nor even a possibility, because when Rakel realizes that she is pregnant, alerted by her food cravings and an enlarged chest, six months have passed, and she will therefore have to lead this pregnancy to term. “I didn’t want her to ask herself the question of abortion because it’s the solution she would have chosen and I didn’t want to make a film about abortion”, Yngvild Sve Flikke explained to us. Adapted from Inga Sætre’s Fallteknikk comic in which Rakel is 16, like Juno, when she accidentally becomes pregnant and has to fend for herself with only the help of her best friend, Ninjababy is a film about the non-desire for motherhood . It is for this reason that the director aged her heroine, 23 years old in the film. “I really wanted her to be old enough to be able to take care of a potential child but didn’t want to. If she had been 16, we would have just been sad for her. There, I wanted to play with the spectator’s expectations and the vision he has of this female character.”Here, nothing and no one will deter Rakel from his choice, neither his older sister who dreams of having a child, nor his new caring and understanding lover who could turn out to be a good adoptive father, nor the parent of the child, a boor who tries to make her change her mind when he discovers sudden inclinations towards paternity. Nor even that unpleasant animated embryo, the famous “Ninjababy”, which arises in her life by means of little drawings which she sketches all day and which verbalizes aloud the anxieties of the young woman who wears it and who tries to to feel guilty. The model Donna Thus, Ninjababy and its determined heroine remind us less of Juno than Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre, which the Norwegian director confides to us that she watched for the preparation of her film. In this feature film halfway between comedy and romantic comedy that tackles the subject of abortion head-on, Donna, a 30-something stand-up girl, becomes pregnant with Max, a sweet and benevolent boy, after a stroke of a evening. In Obvious Child, laughter is the best defense of the right to abortion. But Donna does not want to keep this child, and her choice is presented as rational and considered. His decision, which the film questions but plays down, is by no means taken lightly. If there are also outsiders in Donna’s story – friends, lovers, family – as well as in Rakel’s, her decision is hers from start to finish and her abortion is staged in an honest and concrete. Thus, with accuracy, humor and a lot of emotions, Obvious Child played down the issue of abortion without trivializing it, in the same way that Ninjababy approaches, with creativity, benevolence and a lot of freedom, the non-desire for motherhood. of her heroine. But the director also thought of her film as a black comedy, and in a conclusion full of emotions, Rakel will have to justify one last time her wish not to keep the child who has just been born to the biological father, because she is, according to her, a “shitty selfish person”. Thus, if the director makes her heroine a model of independence who does not let herself be diverted from her difficult choice. She does not forget the gaze that society still has on women who do not want children.
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