Aurore

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* * * (out of five)

Spoiler alert: This review obliquely references the film’s tonal conclusion.

Pregnancy is a good given circumstance – a good hook – on which to hang a movie. It’s human and relatable, there are going to be emotions involved, and it’s inherently suspenseful. There’s going to be a result, an ending, a climax. Nine months or so is a pretty good length of time for a story. The seasons can change, things can happen. Structurally, a pregnancy is pretty impeccable. Like screenplays, they’re even divided into three acts (okay, trimesters).

Aurore, a bouncy, swift and genial comedy from Blandine Lenoir, cleverly has fun with this inherent dramatic arc by assigning the pregnancy neither to the protagonist, nor the antagonist, but to a supporting character. Aurore, warmly played by Agnès Jaoui (who co-wrote the film with Lenoir and, weirdly for a French film, four others) is the mother of the expectant, but the center of the story. At age fifty, she simply feels too young to be on the verge of  being a grandmother; accepting this inevitable status is her character arc, and the film’s journey.

Unfortunately, this clever construction allows the film to avoid dealing with its actual nemesis, which is menopause. The trials and tribulations of menopause are highlighted, I dare say, in every scene of this 89 minute film, but not dealt with, except comically. Rather, the film uses Aurore’s daughter’s pregnancy to dodge the issue, keep things light, airy and pleasant. The film is about society marginalising women once they hit middle-age, but fear not, it’s all played for laughs, and everything turns out okay.

The mature audience I saw it with laughed with every hot flash and mood swing, many obviously in recognition. They didn’t want their buzz killed and they were completely obliged. I enjoyed the witty dialogue, the warm performances, and the intriguing setting (a city somewhere in South-Western France, by the water, possibly La Rochelle), but, somewhere in the second trimester, I realised the film, like its heroine, was more concerned with being loved than asking questions, and, frankly, it lost me. Like many pregnancies, the beginning was surprising and exciting, but the end was entirely predictable.

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