Pregnancy plots abound in the world of film, yet stories of pregnancies that end unexpectedly are rare sights to behold. It’s a messy subject, sure—but so are murder, and war, and a few other ubiquitous topics. Perhaps films shy away from miscarriages for the same reason that, only a little more than 60 years ago, television networks didn’t allow pregnancies to be explicitly acknowledged, deeming the concept too vulgar for airtime.
Marc-André Girard’s 12 Weeks, on the other hand, admirably confronts the topic head on. In 13 minutes, he shows a family dealing with the loss of an unborn child. It’s dramatic without bleeding into overwrought, poignant without veering into cloying or saccharine territory. The film works so well because it adeptly captures the essence of a strong family unit. While the subject matter is inherently sad, the takeaway is, ultimately, a positive one—by supporting one another, a family can get through even the worst days. Speaking of hackneyed subject matter, it’s quite refreshing to see a healthy marriage depicted on screen, especially one that’s all the stronger for having faced tragedy.
There’s a pronounced lack of sentimentality to the film’s generic mall setting that provides an interesting contrast. As she loses her child, Lilly is surrounded by bathroom graffiti and the chatty woman in the stall next door. The film is actually more emotive because this banality and devastation are separated by mere inches.
This film is a very personal one for Girard. He says, “Having lived two miscarriages, I can say that these are really painful events for a couple trying to make up a small family. It is a sad situation. It hurts and I find that we speak little about it, especially [since] 10-15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. It was after the birth of my daughter…that I decided to write 12 Weeks and broach the subject.”
Girard’s film is definitely emotive, but that’s not to say it’s depressing, exactly. It ends with with a small glimmer of hope—a family unit coming together in a public bathroom stall to move beyond this sadness (backed by a stirring soundtrack, of course ).
Girard is currently writing a new short film, which he is hoping to put into production soon.