by Lea Fehner
French film, 1h38
“The average age here is 26. After 30 years, in the business you are “dead”. Young midwives, Louise and Sofia, two friends who come to take their first position in a maternity ward, are immediately warned of the harsh working conditions.
Louise does not take long to find herself destabilized by the permanent pressure imposed by the context and her tutor, Bénédicte, the head of the service who is annoyed by her hesitations. Sofia, on the other hand, immediately feels at ease in the delivery rooms with the mothers. But his confidence and the lack of personnel lead him to take on too great a responsibility.
After Les Ogres, a film with biographical overtones dedicated to a theater group, Léa Fehner joins another collective with the caregivers of a public hospital maternity ward. She built her fiction from a documentary approach by drawing on real situations for the springs for her story.
She associated midwives at all stages, from filming to editing, for more veracity. With the agreement of the families, she filmed the births that punctuate the film, imbuing it with their painful powers and their raw joys. This gives rise to the sensation, often invigorating, also distressing, of being at the heart of the reactor.
The camera closer to reality
Like Sage-homme by Jennifer Devoldere, released in March, Léa Fehner’s feature film follows the personal and professional metamorphosis of all young people faced with the beauty of births and the death that sometimes arises. Like À la vie, Aude Pépin’s documentary in 2021, it warns of the disintegration of the French health system where accounting logics lead to chronic understaffing and mistreatment.
In a maelstrom, the camera of Sages-femmes stands as close as possible to this fierce reality and to the emotions sprung up at the dawn of these lives. The film has the effect of a tornado in the image of the universe it describes, perhaps exhausting for some, captivating for others. He also owes his energy to the students of the Paris Conservatory, led by Héloïse Janjaud (Louise) and Khadija Kouyaté (Sofia), as well as to Myriem Akheddiou, a magnificent tutor as uncompromising as she is full of humanity.