Not many films have left me in a state of utter silence. Not many films have lingered in my mind after watching them. I’ve always felt this is the mark of a true auteur: the ability of making his/her films linger long after the credits have faded to black.
In a rather bleak diner, we see two women talking, almost a kind of a study regarding those individuals that, from having so little left to lose, teeter on the edge of insanity. We see Aline (brilliantly played by an actress named Emmanuelle Escourrou) digressing on matters of life, men, gender, prostitution and hard work. Monika, a shy wisp of a girl listens on, in a state of awkward trance. It is a tragic scene… a lovely mid-shot in black and white.
The film then goes on to depict the endeavors and final goal of Monika. Impregnation. We are introduced to a barren alley filled with junk where sex is to be bought, clients that wear censorship bars over the eyes, a resource which I for one, loved. How utterly ironic, that they should be wearing these censorship bars… Monika eating, the crude sound of her munching a bit repulsive, reminding us of the sperm she has just collected from her customers and which we have witnessed in graphic detail. Monika impregnating herself via a means which some may stare at in disbelief… I for one, had no problems with the acceptance of her method. In the universe that Born From Pain has become in these short minutes, you accept as the film gives.
And then, the baby is born. Monika has isolated her, exposed her to television for 16 years and it has become all she knows. And we wonder… what kind of individual can a human being exposed to 16 years of television become? We see the teenager is hermaphrodite. Is it due to the sperm of so many strangers, the sperm of the world? Can a parade of strangers wanting nothing more than their gratification and a hollow, lovelorn, traumatized prostitute produce such an offspring? As the camera follows the girl inside the room, we feel like voyeurs. Observers of a silent pathos, a girl living like an unaware little animal… a girl’s relationship to her television… And what can possibly come out of this relationship?
I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice to say that Alex et Nico have done a great job. We are left pondering as to the meaning of their piece, reflections of those living a marginal existence, thoughts as to what ignorance and insanity coupled with overexposure to television can produce… violence? The birthing scene towards the end of the film would seem to attest to it.
The cinematography is lovely : following pans and overhead shots, two of my favorite techniques in film. The color is a sharp black and white which increases our perception of cold (I was actually cold after watching watching the film)… The sound I found to be flawless. While violence (be it psychological and physical) depicted to the sounds of classical music has been done before, that doesn’t mean it cannot be done again and Alex et Nico using Beethoven in very particular parts of the film was something I truly enjoyed.
I found myself smiling when I thought back to the opening sequence that states: This film is based on a True Story.