Saturday 11 May 2024

Our Body (Notre Corps) [2023]

 Claire Simon’s courageously conceived and audaciously mounted documentary Our Body is bound to draw parallels with Wiseman’s works for its deeply observant and quietly kaleidoscopic recording of a multi-hued institution, fly-on-the-wall approach, and expansive length. The aesthetic and formal resemblances notwithstanding, it was vastly different in its profoundly intimate and defiantly feminist foregrounding on women’s body – the personal, the collective and the political – and the associated aspects of health, agency, vulnerabilities and unavoidable bodily changes portrayed with the radical empathy of female gaze, and therefore shorn of both sexualization and stigmatization, as opposed to a Wiseman-esque exploration of the medical institution in which it unfolded. And, in what carved an especially singular space for it, Simon even trained the camera on herself like she did on others upon being diagnosed with breast cancer during the course of its filming, and both physically and emotionally bared herself in a manner that unequivocally established her extraordinary dare and moral strength. Set in the gynaecology ward of a public hospital in Paris, it covered – over the course of its nearly three-hour runtime, and by progressing from the very young to the heavily aged – a staggering breath of intensely personal medical consultations, diagnoses, procedures and caregiving. The topics included unplanned teenage pregnancies and abortions, trans-men and trans-women both planning for and having undergone gender changes, coital difficulties, natural and C-section childbirths, fertility and postpartum treatments, detections of and surgical interventions for cancer and other maladies, prognoses that’re both hopeful and dire, and illnesses that’re curable as well as terminal. Admittedly, though, it’s difficult to ascertain to what extent the interactions were influenced – consciously or otherwise – by their unravelling in front of Simon’s camera.

Director: Claire Simon

Genre: Documentary/Essay Film/Feminist Film

Language: French

Country: France

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