Some out there dismiss short films like they would short stories. Like they don’t involve enough of a punch due to the length. Involve stories which care not really fully fleshed out. Don’t give us enough time to get to know and understand characters. Sometimes this can be true but when done well enough is done in a short period of time.
Belgian/American director Berangere McNeese’s short film does most everything well. So well that you will be thinking about Matriochkas for a long while after you have finished watching the 23 minutes film. So impactful it has won several awards at film festivals and it is qualified to be considered for a 2021 Oscar nomination.
The film takes a look at teenage pregnancy. Now, don’t roll your eyes as you think that many, many films have used that same subject to build around. This one brings plenty new to the table and looks at it from a new angle.
Anna (Héloïse Volle – first film) is sixteen and lives with her mom, Rebecca (Victoire Du Bois – Call Me By Your Name, The Family). Rebecca had Anna when she was sixteen and has a series of boyfriends coming through their apartment. As is the case with many that age, Anna is investigating her burgeoning sexuality. So much so that she is earning a reputation at her high school for sleeping with many of her classmates.
Having fun with sex turns into a stressful situation when Anna discovers she is pregnant. When Rebecca finds out Anna is pregnant she tells her daughter everything is alright. Instead of going through her options, Rebecca wants Anna to keep the baby as she had her when she was the same age. Anna is less sure. She has a choice to make. An important one.
This is only McNeese’s third short film and yet she demonstrates the insticts of a veteran. A true storyteller she does not need much race track to get the point and emotion of the story across. Not only addresses teenage pregnancy but also how many parents unconsciously live their lives through their kids. How at this age teenagers separate themselves from their parents. Become true individuals.
Though Rebecca is not what many would see as a good parent, she is. The single mother is not judged here. Not by director/screenwriter McNeese. Not living a life which is seen as stable to raise a child, the film does show the love between mother and daughter.
Abortion is an element of the story, but not made to be the centerpiece. It is a highly contentious subject in certain slices of the population, so many might have a negative reaction to what goes on here. Abortion involving a 16-year-old.