the conversion of a medical student discovering the world of motherhood

the conversion of a medical student discovering the world of motherhood

Léopold (Melvin Boomer) and Nathalie (Karine Viard) in “Sage-Homme”, by Jennifer Devoldere.


Already, there is this large poster with a caregiver in a pink coat, which catches the eye and questions. What is it about ? The title of the film gives the answer, in the form of a play on words: Wise man, a term that does not actually exist. Because we say “the midwife” when the profession is exercised by a male person, the word “woman” designating the one who gives birth, and “wise” the person who accompanies him. Directed by Jennifer Devoldère, born in 1974, also screenwriter (she co-wrote Eric Barbier’s film, Zodi and Tehu, brothers of the desert, released on February 8), this comedy follows the journey of a student discovering the universe of a maternity ward: Léopold (Melvin Boomer), having failed for the second time in the medical entrance examination, registers out of spite in the midwifery course. But he does not tell his father (Steve Tientcheu), whom he perceives as a macho, and also probably out of concern not to disappoint this widowed man, security guard, who is raising his four boys alone. This time, no single mother leaving to do housework at 4 a.m.: obviously, the director likes to reverse the roles, even if one can regret that the character of the father is a bit of a cliché – he spends his evenings watching football with his friends, etc.

So here is Leopold arriving with a lump in his stomach at midwifery school, the only boy among the young girls, reluctant to put on his baby-colored blouse. It will take him a little time to appreciate this profession, and the change will be done thanks to the apprenticeship he is doing alongside a characterful and experienced midwife: Nathalie (Karin Viard) does not spare her new student , but at least she gives him a chance, by entrusting him with responsibilities. Léopold discovers, against all odds, a few moments of wonder – the birth of a child, first aid – after hours of stressful work. His mentor will also teach him two or three things about female pleasure, during a rather funny scene.

So much for the script, spiced up with a meeting with a student. Wise man is certainly not the first film to deal, in the form of drama or comedy, behind the scenes of a maternity ward. It has even been a trend in recent years to call on star actors to bring these difficult and undervalued professions out of the shadows, which moreover rub shoulders with death (of the newborn or the mother): we can quote See the day (2020), by Marion Laine, with Sandrine Bonnaire, or even, in the burlesque genre, Enormous (2020), by Sophie Letourneur, with Marina Foïs and Jonathan Cohen, a film that is also very well documented, nourished by testimonials from professionals and future parents.

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