IFFR ’20 – ‘Énorme’ is a Tender and Genuine Comedy

In Sophie Letourneur’s Énorme (2019), we are presented with a man and a woman who are having a baby; potentially the most cultural familiar relationship in its actualisation of successful heteronor…

In Sophie Letourneur’s

Énorme

(2019)

,

we are presented with a man and a woman who are having a baby; potentially the most cultural familiar relationship in its

Énorme

is a mutation in which the familiar is reflected with stark and laughable absurdity.


Énorme

follows concert pianist Claire Girard (Marina Foïs) and her obsessively

Letourneur conducts a fresh examination of pregnancy, urging that the audience re-examine the surreal state. Having orchestrated his sinister version of an immaculate conception, swapping Claire’s birth control for sweetener, Fréd begins to stand in for Claire as mother experiencing something of a phantom pregnancy. He swells in size as a result of sudden rapid cravings and waddles, supporting his newly protruding belly or massaging his lower back; his physicality submitting to our archetypal understanding of the pregnant woman

.

Through Fréd’s ‘pregnancy’, Letourneur is able to surface familiar idiosyncrasies of pregnancy, whilst alienating them into absurdity.

Part of Letourneur’s success is a result of

Énorme

’s complexity; its resistance to entirely villainise Fréd and instead to demonstrate continued tenderness between the couple. Although pregnancy seems to come naturally to Fréd, it does come with an alienating removal of bodily autonomy which subsequently triggers the relinquishment of his control over Claire. Vignettes are repeated, mutating to remove Fréd’s dominance and ensure

Énorme’s

eventual arrival at equality for the couple

.

Despite Claire managing to recover some agency in her pregnancy, the experience is in equal parts alienating and often horrific.

The Handmaid’s Tale,

Claire is an isolated host to her husband’s baby. Atwood’s novel (and subsequent Channel 4 series) has become

the

contemporary articulation of women’s threatened agency. In both

The Handmaid’s Tale

and

Énorme,

women are appreciated only in relation

Énorme

resists reconciliation, in Claire’s consistent resistance to and horror at her pregnancy,

Infrequently in

Énorme

is the drama focalised through Claire, however, in these few moments Letourneur allows

Fréd and Claire’s relationship breaks down

Sophie Letourneur manages to navigate dealing seriously and directly with the abuse which drives her film, whilst balancing the absurd nuances of pregnancy and relationships. Foïs and Cohen’s relationship is

Énorme

’s triumph; they play each other’s foils wonderfully and naturally allow for the humour (and it is very funny) to come through. Letourneur professes that her film does not seek to offer any answers to the myriad of questions it raises about domestically abusive and controlling partners, the contested and reviled status of the pregnant woman or indeed gender itself. Instead, she weaves importance into a film rich with nuance

Énorme,

Letourneur has produced a tender and genuine comedy.

By Joanna Mason

by Joanna Mason


Joanna Mason

(preferably Joey) is 22 and is studying in Glasgow, Scotland. Some of her favourite films are

Lost Highway

,

Withnail and I

,

Frances Ha

and

Videodrome

.

Categories:

Anything and Everything

,

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,

Women Film-makers

Tagged as:

directed by women

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,

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,

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,

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