SERENDIPITY (2019)

"Arty Cancer Doc Has Mixed Results"

Quality:
Content: -4 Gross immorality, and/or worldview problems.
NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

What You Need To Know:

SERENDIPITY is a documentary from French artist Prune Nourry. Dedicated to “women warriors” who battle breast cancer and other diseases, it documents Nourry’s own battle with breast cancer and her career as an artist. She asks questions like “what are we here for?” and answers by looking at beautiful pieces of art that bring beauty to a broken world. Nourry discusses her diagnosis, chemotherapy, acupuncture, mastectomy, and reconstructive surgery. She invites viewers to grieve with her about her mastectomy and rejoice with her about her reconstructive surgery.

SERENDITY is sometimes visually stunning. Some of the director’s art is beautiful. She also pairs her art with wonderful cinematography from a trip to China as well as images of the French landscape. The cinematography adds beauty to the movie. However, SERENDIPITY also contains disturbing images. It shows images of the birth process and a “procreative dinner” where attendees learning about in vitro fertilization eat courses with a reproductive theme, including cheese made to look like tiny babies. SERENDIPITY has a mixed worldview with Romantic, pagan and moral elements, brief foul language, and explicit nudity.

Content:

(PaPa, BB, RoRo, FRFR, H, O, L, S, NN, D, MM): Dominant worldview: Strong mixed pagan worldview in artsy documentary about an artist’s struggle with breast cancer and using art to express herself about the issues involved, with some uplifting/inspiring moments where artist invites viewers to grieve with her about her mastectomy and rejoice with her about her reconstructive surgery, and artist sometimes says positive things like, “A couple of months we were in China and a friend asked me ‘if you had a magic power, what would it be?’ My answer came quickly. I said, ‘To heal with my hands.’ That’s why I [do] sculpture,” mixed with Romantic and pagan elements containing many disturbing images where art is seen as a personal expression with no transcendent or ultimate guidelines or restraints, no mention of God, and a sequence where the artist (engaging in performance art) conducts a “procreative dinner” where attendees who want to learn about in vitro fertilization eat courses with a reproductive theme such as yellow pudding in eggs serving as examples of embryos and cheese made to look like tiny babies, and other disturbing images and metaphors that seem to turn the documentary into a mockery of human life as well as the miracle it takes to produce it, and false religious references to Buddhism in a sequence showing Chinese Buddhas and the Afghan Buddhas that the Taliban blew up, plus a quick mention of magic, and some humanist elements showing a reliance on science without God

Foul Language:
Two obscenities

Violence:
No violence

Sex:
Graphic depiction of the birth process and an art piece where people interested in in vitro fertilization choose the genetic makeup of their children and drink a sperm cocktail and eat pieces of cheese that resemble babies in utero

Nudity:
In the first half hour of the movie, character wears a sheet with just one bare breast exposed, and several statues show female genitalia

Alcohol Use:
No alcohol use

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
One scene of a man smoking, but no drug use; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Mockery of the sanctity of life, bad role models and dysfunctional family portrayals.

More Detail:

SERENDIPITY is a documentary created by French artist Prune Nourry as she journeys through her experiences with her own breast cancer and expresses herself through pieces of art. The movie closes with her reconstructive breast surgery. Actress Angelina Jolie, a breast cancer survivor herself, executive produces the movie. There are many stunning images and some thought-provoking moments in SERENDIPITY, the movie also contains some disturbing images, explicit nudity and other objectionable, immoral content that was unnecessary and sensationalistic.

The movie begins with Nourry asking the question, “What are we here for?” and then replies, “Every artist answers that question in his or her own way.” Nourry, a breast cancer survivor, recounts her research of in vitro fertilization and shows the footage she recorded as she documents what it was like for science to have a part in implanting human life into a human being. Nourry interweaves this footage with chemotherapy, shaving her head and using alternative healing methods such as acupuncture to heal her body. The movie ends with her having reconstructive surgery to put a breast implant in where she had her mastectomy.

Nourry dedicates her movie to “women warriors” who fight cancer. She does a fabulous job of communicating the message that artists heal the world in their own way by creating beautiful pieces of art that color the world in unique ways. For example, in one scene she says, “A couple of months we were in China, and a friend asked me ‘if you had a magic power, what would it be?’ My answer came quickly. I said, ‘To heal with my hands.’ That’s why I [do] sculpture.”

Particular parts of in-vitro fertilization are downright disturbing. One example is the “procreative dinner” where attendees who want to learn about in vitro fertilization eat courses with a reproductive theme. Attendees eat an appetizer of frozen embryos (a yellow pudding-like substance eaten in a half open egg), or the main course of amniosynthesis, which is cheese made into the shape of tiny babies, which partygoers cut up and eat. There’s also a “sperm bar,” an actual place, similar to a food truck, where shoppers can choose the genetic makeup of their children, pay two dollars, then receive a liquid cocktail to drink.

Although not Nourry’s intention, these scenes tended to turn the documentary into a mockery of human life as well as the miracle it takes to produce it. That said, viewers can’t help but feel for Nourry who authentically portrays both the ups and downs, the pain and loss of cancer.. She cries as she grieves for the part of her body she’s lost, and viewers are invited to rejoice with her in the last scene as she has reconstructive surgery.

SERENDIPITY has some stunning visuals and excellent artistry. Nourry’s, who directs the movie, pairs her art sequences with wonderful cinematography from a trip to China and of French landscapes. The cinematography adds depth and beauty to the movie.

SERENDIPITY also has some inspiring, uplifting, thought provoking moments. As noted above, for example, Nourry invites viewers to grieve with her about her mastectomy and rejoice with her about her reconstructive surgery. Her comments about artists answering the question of why are we here and about healing with her hands are grand.

However, these positive moments are mixed with Romantic and pagan elements containing many disturbing images where art is seen as a personal expression with no transcendent or ultimate guidelines or restraints. Thus, SERENDIPITY also contains disturbing images. Some of the images seem to mock the sanctity of life as well as the miracle it takes to produce it. Finally, there’s brief foul language, some explicit nudity and references to Buddhism, but no positive references to God or Jesus.

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