31 May 2013

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: 17 Filles (2011)


Well, this is a controversial and complex one. The outline may seem bizarre and basis of an absurd comedy, once you are presented with an introduction that "when Camille accidentally becomes pregnant, 16 of her friends and classmates decide to follow suit, throwing their town and school into chaos...", nevertheless, 17 Filles (2011, Delphine Coulin & Muriel Coulin) brings the conversation on teen pregnancy beyond what you have seen before.

This is not Juno (2007) with it's ups and downs being still framed in complete security and parental support, the pregnancy being a result of boredom. These French girls - and the movie is based on a somewhat true story that happened in Gloucester, Massachusets in 2008 - use sex/pregnancy as one of the ways to gain agency and control over their lives. The fantasy that rises from one unplanned pregnancy leads to a vision of independence and communal life based on shared maternity away from the parental control and not-promising-at-all future of their town.

While, of course, there's a lot of content to challenge - the instrumentalization of sex ignoring the dimension of pleasure, the absence of parents or their male peers sex partners, the reckless driving, smoking and drinking while pregnant, and the outlandish view that a life with a baby would be somehow easier - it comes back to haunt you exactly on how it questions the narrative of teen pregnancy that we are used to.
You watch the girls while they look for things in their lives: to do, to be, to strive towards... in a confusing, rather lonely world where suddenly something so basic and so contrarian to everything they have been warned about as pregnancy (with no sentimental strings attached to the biological fathers) suddenly seems like a good idea that would get them out of the slump of adolescence and make them adults.

Just to keep in mind that teen pregnancies do not come just from not knowing the biological consequences of sex. It is a much more complex conundrum of things that we should be working with... So, enjoy!

BTW, at the moment there is somebody on YouTube that has uploaded the entire movie, so you may take advantage while it lasts...

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