Written & Directed by #SamAbbas
Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
Originally released on IGTV, six-minute #shortfilm Marie documents a mere fragment of the sixty-three-hour labour (that’s right, sixty-three) of one Marie Brewer. Marie’s birth, as well as being an abnormally long and unfathomably arduous event, was in fact a home birth. Home birthing has increasingly become a more appealing and viable option for some mothers, many much preferring to be in the comfort of their own homes surrounded by their own personal team and loved ones as opposed to a perhaps more clinical and unfamiliar nature of a hospital environment, something especially relevant throughout the COVID-era (although Marie’s experience actually predates this)
“A mother is always the beginning. She is how things begin.”
But choices such as Marie’s are still met with a certain degree of societal and medical scepticism, home birthing itself still a concept surrounded by controversy, misconceptions and conflicting opinions. It is often deemed rather unsafe when compared to a hospital environment, as well as much less sanitary and in fact more expensive. However, it is the intention of Egyptian-American filmmaker Sam Abbas to destigmatise the notion of home birthing, as well as encouraging others to do their own research on the matter.
Debunking some of these preconceptions is something Abbas and Marie manages to achieve to a degree. Certain research does in fact indicate that mothers can in fact feel more relaxed, more supported and importantly less fearful at home and it is these emotional facets rather than the medical or fiscal ones of Marie’s experience that the film really focuses on.
Marie is constantly surrounded and aided by her team, whether it’s with a physically supportive hand or simply a reassuring one. Its heart-warming to see her with such consistent unwavering support, something that arguably is simply unachievable with a hospital delivery and it’s evident that Marie benefits greatly from this.
But ultimately what Abbas wants to do is make us vicariously feel, if only an infinitesimal amount, some of what Marie feels. Abbas really tries to get across the ebbs and flows of the labour process, the uncensored discomfort, endurance and stamina involved with any birth, let alone one stretched out over two-and-a-half days, something very rarely depicted so vehemently in cinema. The films impactful and echoing two beat metal drum score, working as a ticking clock in our minds, really highlights this slow passage of time, making those six-minutes feel much longer but in the best and most intended way. Ultimately, we find ourselves begging mercy for Marie’s discomfort, and although we never fully get to the end, we would undoubtedly have also revelled in her joy when all was said and done.
While Marie might not answer all your questions on the subject or even really attempt to sway you one way or the other, it succeeds in achieving its actual purpose which is to motivate those willing to seek out more information of the matter, so as far as Abbas is concerned, mission accomplished.
You can watch Marie on IGTV here.