A Slightly Pregnant Man
Deneuve, Catherine, Demy, Jacques, Mastroianni, Marcello
Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video
- Duffin, Jacalyn
- Date of entry: May-15-2010
Driving-school instructor Marco (Marcello Mastroianni) feels unwell, especially in the mornings; his stomach swells, and he develops emotional lability. His wife, the hairdresser Irène (Catherine Deneuve), is sympathetic – but only to a point--and insists he seek help.
The woman doctor – a suave smoker--diagnoses pregnancy, and refers him to a specialist. At first skeptical, the specialist is soon convinced that a man can indeed have a baby, and the two doctors make news holding scientific conferences on the world’s first pregnant man, “the most important event since man walked on the moon.”
Meanwhile Marco becomes a sensation – his gestational condition spawns a new line of clothing, new trends in masculine behaviour, and lucrative celebrity endorsements. Irène is concerned about her business and slightly irritated by the attention given her husband, as the advent of a baby deflects her plans.
Suddenly the bubble bursts. Marco turns out not to be pregnant after all. The special attention vanishes overnight, but the couple has grown closer and greets the private news that Irène is expecting with great joy.
In French with English subtitles. A multiple Oscar nominee, Demy died at age 59 of AIDS. French-Italian coproduction; title L'événement le plus important depuis que l'homme a marché sur la lune.
Koch Lorber Films
Often described as a light and entertaining comedy, this aging film emerges as a clever farce with pointed barbs. The preposterous scenario affords multiple small plays on gender stereotypes as a social commentary of its era--a period piece. But it also serves as a gentle satire on medical science and media-seeking physicians, duped by their own grandiosity – an occupational hazard that is timeless.
The story is reminiscent of the eighteenth-century Mary Tofts who convinced prominent physicians that she had birthed a litter of bunnies. However, unlike Tofts, Marco and Irène are guileless, affectionate, and disarmingly accepting. They are drawn into the “diagnosis” by the confidence of the professionals who pontificate and revel in novelty of male pregancy. A prescient nod to concerns over additive hormones in food, air, and water, provides an articulate physiological explanation for why more male pregnancies can be expected in the future.
Filmed in rich 1970s colours with director Jacques Demy’s favorite star (Deneuve), its simple structure and direct story line evoke his (and her) more famous film the ‘Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ (Cannes winner, 1964). But this tale offers greater and more useful challenges for students and practitioners of medicine.