How to have sex and Cannes films depicting sexual assault remain endemic

On screen, what’s interesting is how effective these various films have been in showing how a horrifying collective blindness around what constitutes consent runs deep: predators seemingly blissfully ignorant of the traumatic effects of their behavior, while their victims cringe. shoulders. of “normal” life.

Walker’s How to Have Sex follows three girls on vacation in Greece. One of the girls is a virgin, but all three of them almost expect her to go home after sleeping with a guy. Walker’s expertly crafted film makes it clear that the girl isn’t sure about losing her virginity on a beach to a guy she likes less than her best friend, but instead of stopping the sexual encounter, she nearly fell for it. resign to it. While hard to watch, this encounter seems like unfortunate adolescent behavior, but the next night, when the girl rejects the boy’s advances, he pounces on her while she’s asleep, and she wakes up to him ready to have sex with her. she; she then resigns herself to it again. The horror comes not just from the action, but also from the fact that Walker plays it off so matter-of-factly, like it’s a rite of passage of being a girl coming of age today, a sentiment reinforced by the reactions of her friends. friends when she finally tells them.

In Khan’s In Flames, the horror of predatory male behavior takes on a literal flavor with a shocking twist towards the end. However, before that, men are scary enough for her young heroine Mariam, who has to deal with men exposing themselves indecently on the streets and men complaining when she doesn’t add them as friends on social media, while that even a rickshaw driver who helps her get home after an accident ruins her chivalry when she returns home the next morning. Her life in Karachi is shown to be one in which she has little agency, as public spaces are dangerous for a girl to be alone. Add to this her mother’s overly watchful eye on her at home, born out of fear for her daughter, and it’s clear that Mariam’s life is defined by the predatory behavior that surrounds her.

The most harrowing dismissal of predatory behavior comes in Hania’s Four Daughters docudrama, in which teenage girls take the advances of their mother’s boyfriend because they know no one will listen, especially their mother, and probably neither will the Tunisian authorities. and Libya. It is clearly abuse, and it is horrible when a daughter says that she accepted the man’s behavior because she “was so happy to see the light in her mother’s eyes when she was with him.” It is a terrible story of self-sacrifice and acceptance of abuse, since the avenues to combat it are very limited.

Meanwhile, in Haynes’ May December, Julianne Moore plays a teacher who has been in a 24-year relationship with one of her students, whom she took advantage of when she was 13 years old. The film takes place 24 years after her, and despite the fact that the teacher has gone to jail, the young man continued her relationship with her, marrying and having children with her. Throughout, he fails to see how his wife’s behavior has been coercive and abusive.