Top Film Picks on DVD/Blu-ray: Timely 'Happening'; 'Mothering Sunday'; and More

LJ's film columnist picks the month's top indie and foreign films, now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Happening (“L’événement”). 100 min. In French w/English subtitles. IFC Films, dist. by RLJ Entertainment. 2021. DVD UPC 014381148114. $18.99; Blu-ray UPC 014381148138. $20.99. DRAMA

A college student interested in pursuing her studies in early-1960s France, Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei) becomes pregnant and turns increasingly desperate as her chance to get an illegal abortion fades. Based on Annie Ernaux’s autobiographical novel, writer-director Audrey Diwan’s harrowing adaptation won top honors at the Venice Film Festival for its searing depiction. VERDICT Alongside Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007), this film views abortion in personal—not political—terms, making it especially timely viewing.

Learning To Drive. 90 min. Shout Select. 2014. Blu-ray UPC 826663223323. $29.99. Rated: R. DRAMEDY

After divorcing her husband, Manhattan book critic Wendy (Patricia Clarkson) starts taking driving lessons from Darwan (Ben Kingsley), an Indian immigrant about to enter an arranged marriage with a fellow Sikh (Sarita Choudhury). But Darwan finds his unlikely friendship with Wendy hard to give up after she earns her driver’s license. Director Isabel Coixet (The Bookshop) capitalizes on superb acting turns for a lesson on navigating love and friendship. VERDICT Despite some at-times strong language, viewers should enjoy the circuitous ride.

Mothering Sunday. 104 min. Sony. 2021. DVD UPC 043396582088. $25.99; Blu-ray UPC 043396582101. $30.99. Rated: R. DRAMA

An orphaned housemaid (Odessa Young), given Mother’s Day off in 1924 by her English-estate employers (Colin Firth, Olivia Colman), meets with her secret lover (Josh O’Connor), the post-war surviving son of neighbors who is due to marry an aristocratic woman before tragedy strikes. Director Eva Husson sets her visually expressive adaptation of Graham Swift’s acclaimed novel on a single day, fluidly time-hopping to show how a critical event shaped the development of a successful writer. VERDICT For fans of Downton Abbey who are open to an artier British drama.

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. 116 min. Focus Features, dist. by Universal. 2022. DVD UPC 191329216606. $22.98; Blu-ray/DVD UPC 191329216613. $34.98. Rated: PG. DRAMEDY

In 1950s London, a lonely but determined housekeeper, Ada Harris (Lesley Manville), uses her recently acquired war widow’s pension to pursue the dress of her dreams—a Christian Dior—hoping it will lift up her drab life. Charming her way into the House of Dior, Ada even manages to help save the financially struggling company while winning over its haughty manager (Isabelle Huppert) and playing matchmaker between a lovely model and a nerdy accountant. VERDICT Anthony Fabian’s charming, funny, and poignant tale is tailor-made for audiences interested in the filmic equivalent of a “gentle read” but not content with pabulum.

Sex and Lucía. 122 min. In Spanish w/ English subtitles. Music Box Films. 2001. Blu-ray UPC 751778951758. $19.99. DRAMA

After the apparent suicide of her novelist boyfriend, a Madrid waitress (Paz Vega) goes on a spiritual retreat by vacationing on the lush Mediterranean island where they once planned to visit and finds an attractive couple dealing with their own loss. Writer-director Julio Medem (Lovers of the Arctic Circle; Room in Rome) weaves a dazzlingly intricate and candidly erotic narrative about love, destiny, and the interplay between fiction and reality. VERDICT This unrated version of an earlier, slightly edited domestic release is recommended for open-minded audiences.

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