Tag Archives: teen pregnancy

Aya de Yopougon

Directors: Marguerite AbouetClément Oubrerie, Main Cast (voices): Aïssa MaïgaTella KpomahouTatiana Rojo;


Set in Abidja (Ivory Coast), this animated film chronicles the life of Aya and her friends, Bintou and Adjoua. They grew up and live, along with their families and friends, in Yopougon, a rather poor area of the biggest city of the country. Like many other teenager girls, they have dreams about their future, want to have fun but also have to deal with their parents’ and society’s expectations. Marguerite Abouet (who is also the writer of the graphic novel) clearly knows well the subject and gives us a rich, insightful view of a seldom seen location and a rarely described period (the late 1970s, during president Houphouët-Boigny’s tenure), using the personal stories of ordinary but colourful characters. Aya is sensible, responsible and independent, quite unlike her two best friends, who are more frivolous and fun-loving. What is quite perplexing about this story is that, although Aya is the protagonist, she ends up being the witness and narrator of the exploits and escapades of the ones around her, being friends, family members or mere acquaintances. The directors seems to have much more fun regaling us with tales of foolishness, small-mindedness and ambitiousness. It is indeed entertaining and offers a biting social satire using the ample spectrum of human qualities. However it is not totally convincing, the well-known secret for a good movie is: don’t tell, show; unfortunately it is not always the case here. Furthermore I would have liked to know more about Aya and her dream of becoming a doctor in such a society, stifled by patriarchy and lacking opportunities but maybe it was a topic too tricky to explore. The animation per se is charming but nothing extraordinary, a good support to a nice story. Peculiar —6.5/10

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Filed under Animation, Seen at the cinema


Director: Stephen Frears, Main Cast: Judi DenchSteve CooganAnna Maxwell MartinSophie Kennedy Clark

Judi Dence and Steve Coogan in Philomena

Martin Sixsmith (Coogan), former journalist and  “spin-doctor” for the Labour government, doesn’t know what to do with himself after he got the sack. While in this limbo, he stumbles on a good subject for a “human interest” story: Philomena Lee (Dench). Her tale of woes begins in Ireland in the early fifties when she became pregnant. Being a teenager she was shamed and abandoned by her family and forced to live in a convent, you know the go-to-a-nunnery type of thing. She lived there with her son, in rather appalling conditions, for a few years until one faithful day her son is given away to a well-to-do family by the nuns. Philomena keeps the secret for fifty years but, after telling her daughter, she sets out to find her lost son with Martin’s help. The film follows this odd couple of characters in a quest for truth that is also a journey of self-discovery for both. Judi Dench gives an extraordinary portrayal of Philomena: subdue and subtle, never forced or exaggerated; which is the real strong point of the movie and what makes it involving. I guess it is never easy to make a quality film which is based on a book based on a true story… this one feels a bit re-hashed and more focused on the journalist and his achievement, telling a riveting tale and doing something good in the bargain, than on the actual, far more interesting, story of Philomena. Somewhat disappointing, watch Peter Mullan’s The Magdalene Sisters instead! —6.5/10

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Top of the Lake (TV mini-series)

Main Cast:  Elisabeth MossThomas M. WrightPeter MullanDavid WenhamHolly Hunter;


Forget New Zealand as beautiful Middle Earth, in this series you can see a very different aspect: grim, darker and rather misogynistic. It is a detective story written and directed (most of the episodes anyway) by Jane Campion, so we get: a female lead character, complex and multi-layered played brilliantly by Elisabeth Moss, and violence against women (both physical and psychological). It starts like a case of child rape in a small town: 12-year-old Tui is five month pregnant and tries to kill herself, Det. Robin Griffin is called in as expert in child abuse. She is being back in the area, visiting her sick mother, after many years of absence. After her first interview with Robin, Tui disappears  and no one knows what happened. We embark with Robin on a mission to find Tui and the truth, and in each episode we find out more about her past and the people of the town. The more interesting aspects are the dynamics among the characters and the different facets of misogyny (from demeaning comments to outright abuse) weaved in the everyday life of girls and women of this small community. The cast is outstanding: from Peter Mullan to David Wenham and Holly Hunter, they all give very convincing and enthralling performances. Very special kudos to Thomas Wright, who reminds me of a young Daniel Day-Lewis, and masterfully balances vulnerability with strength and desire to portrait his Johnno. The scenery is also used quite skillfully to set the mood of the story: alternatively bleak, peaceful, menacing, hopeless or foreboding; it can almost be considered a character in its own right. Being a rather gloomy tale I would not recommend it for a week-end of light entertainment but I do recommend you to watch it. Striking and unconventional —7.5/10

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