Thursday, December 27, 2012

"17 Girls": A pregnancy pact in the U.S. transplanted to France by filmmakers

Does a true story o f controversial behavior by a group of teens in an American small town translate well to France? That’s the experiment in a film by Delphine and Muriel Coulin, “17 Girls” (ot “17 filles” or even “17 jeunes filles”) .

The true story took place in Gloucester MA in 2008, when a number of teenage girls made a pregnancy pact to snub “the system”, so it seemed.  The French film is transplanted to Lorient, France, on the coast of Brittany. 

The film is shot as drama, not as a documentary (which would be more natural for American filmmakers). It stars when Camille (Louise Grinberg) gets pregnant “accidentally” almost out of boredom.  She encourages all her friends to do the same.

Is this all just teen rebellion?  Some of the girls say that having babies make life seem “real” to them. Maybe they have a point.  The subject of the film is ironic in France, since most of Europe has a birthrate deficit and countries have been trying pro-birth policies – but for married couples – that the childless would have to subsidize.  (See review of “Demographic Winter”, June 7, 2011). 

Much of the coupling takes place “on the beach”, and the boys seem immature, smoking constantly (so do the girls – bad for babies), and looking physically immature (like no body hair yet).  Everyone seems reckless, defiant.

Later the movie shows some of the medical results (babies on ultrasound, standing up in wombs), and toward the end,  there are serious accidents and mishaps, perhaps tragedy.
The official site from Diaphana is here

I received a screener from Strand Releasing. The DVD is available Jan. 15, 2013; it had a prebook of Dec. 18. The film places in "Critics Week" at Cannes.  

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