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  Slightly Pregnant Man, A He's Having A Baby
Year: 1973
Director: Jacques Demy
Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Micheline Presle, Marisa Pavan, Claude Melki, Mireille Mathieu, André Falcon, Maurice Biraud, Alice Sapritch, Raymond Gérôme, Madeleine Barbulée, Micheline Dax, Benjamin Legrand, Jacques Legras, Tonie Marshall
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Marco Mazetti (Marcello Mastroianni) is a Parisien driving instructor, and having a difficult client such as the little old lady he's teaching today is not doing anything for his headache, or indeed any of the aches and pains he's been suffering lately. He's noticed he's been getting a little thicker around the waist as well, and starts to wonder if he's beginning to have health problems, though he's hardly decrepit and doesn't want to make a fuss. On the other hand his girlfriend Irène de Fontenoy (Catherine Deneuve), who runs her own hairdressing salon, is growing increasingly concerned...

What could be wrong? Well, the title slapped on the English version was a major giveaway, as the French title was the bombastic L'événement le plus important depuis que l'homme a marché sur la lune, meaning the most important event since man walked on the moon, which unwisely built up possibilities in the audience's mind that no movie could have reasonably lived up to. But the problems were more ordinary than that: director Jacques Demy took a potentially outrageous concept and did precisely nothing with it, leaving his talented cast milling around a plot which saw Marco being told he was pregnant.

The world's first pregnant man, a notion that had largely been used for comedies on the rare occasion it had been dusted off, most famously with the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Junior, and even that wasn't exactly hilarious, though it was mildly funnier than the Joan Rivers effort Rabbit Test which was released a few years after this was. Possibly the most famous male pregnancy film was unleashed at the end of the decade, and that was Alien where John Hurt was the father, though that was played strictly for shock horror, while television viewers might have fondly recalled Vyvyan in anarchic eighties sitcom The Young Ones became pregnant in one episode.

That turned out not to be a baby but a really big fart, which was a better punchline than the seriously underwhelming one Demy came up with for his work here. Some say this marked the beginning of a long, downward spiral in quality for one of the brightest and most distinctive directors of the French New Wave, and it certainly did help much, either in sustaining his reputation or entertaining the viewer. That said, it was possible to be a little too tough on this, as it was plain to see it never had any aspirations other than a cinematic shaggy dog story, yet even the formerly pristine Demy visuals were rather drab and uninspired in this case, the garish wardrobe offered to Deneuve notwithstanding.

When Marco visits a doctor (Micheline Presle) to find out why he's been under the weather lately she examines him and decides he's going to have a baby, making history even if she and the gynaecologist she brings in cannot explain what is happening, much to their patient's consternation. However, it's not especially amusing consternation, and everyone aside from Irène (who has a fainting spell on hearing the news) is one step away from reacting with a shrug. The matter of fact tone could be seen as one of acceptance for the quirks of biology that the film had invented, but it could also be that once they had devised their plot they realised there wasn't much they could do with it, and so it is that after a few half-hearted scenes discussing the potential for a feminist reading of the predicament the movie fizzled out with a non-ending, as if to say, sorry folks, we couldn't think of a resolution. The sight of Mastroianni modelling maternity wear had a bizarre appeal, but this was mediocre stuff. Music by Michel Legrand.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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