One Sings, the Other Doesn’t

(L'une chante, l'autre pas)
France 1977. Dir: Agnès Varda. 120 min. DCP

NEW RESTORATION! Bona fide living legend Agnès Varda, who turns 90 this year, drew a line in the sand with this spritely feminist musical-cum-manifesto about women’s reproductive rights, made at a time when a new law legalizing abortion in France was still at risk of repeal. (The law wouldn’t be made permanent until 1979.) The film’s decade-spanning story, beginning in 1962, charts the enduring friendship between two women, Pauline (Valérie Mairesse) and Suzanne (Thérèse Liotard), whose sisterhood is forged when Suzanne, a young mother of two, decides to get an abortion. In the years that follow, one becomes a singer in a feminist folk troupe; the other, a counsellor at a family-planning centre. A pivotal scene finds them reunited at the trial of a 16-year-old girl accused of abortion. In 1971, Varda was one of 343 prominent women who protested France’s abortion ban by publicly declaring that they had had illegal abortions.


NUDITY; VIOLENCE; COARSE & SEXUAL LANGUAGE
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REVIEWS

"Provides a considered escapist identification that mainstream cinema has traditionally denied women in its male-dominated fantasies."

Time Out | full review