“i remember seeing a condom i just don’t know, like, exactly what it did”
Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) is an aspiring comedienne in her late 20s. She still trying to figure her life out while trying to make her comedy routine into a viable livelihood, much to the dismay of her mom who constantly nags her to make better choices. When a series of rather unfortunate events struck her all at once, ended with a literally life-altering decision resulted from a one-night stand with a guy who might just gonna make her valentine the best/worst one yet.
Why the hell would this film marketed as Abortion Comedy? I just don’t get it. Because it betrays what the film really offers, despite all the polarizing reaction it received due to that kind of labeling much like its polarizing subject (first Abortion Comedy film just doesn’t sit well, it reminds me of Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 1). The director/writer Gillian Robespierre, views abortion matter-of-factly, rather being provocative, which made the film seemed palatable in a hindsight. Anyway, Obvious Child is an pleasantly honest dramedy created by woman about woman. The end product felt sensitive and surprisingly relatable, just like what i experienced with Frances Ha last year. I was slightly pessimistic since i never really understand the stand-up comedy routine, with self-deprecating humor as a fodder for the material of the gig, which opens the film.
But the what the film really offers is a wonderful camaraderie in sisterhood that is shared between Donna (Slate) and her best friend Nellie (Gaby Hoffmann), sometimes including their GBF, Joey (Gabe Liedman). The contrasting relationship between Donna and her divorced parents, she founds comfort in her doting, similarly artistic inclined Father (Richard Kind) and unexpected solace in her demanding, ambitious Mother (Polly Draper). The way she lashes out and ‘lightly’ stalking the boyfriend who dumped her for her friend (while sipping coffees and holding back her tears). The life-changing even that begins with an alcohol induced one night stand with a decent, straight laced man, who is sooooo not her type (Jake Lacy), proves that sometimes our first impression or pre-conceived notion could bring surprising development. The chemistry between the two developed through awkward encounters and stiff conversations, but both seems to share the same sentiment. The film diverse from the usual route of unplanned pregnancy films (such as Juno), the heroine choice of not giving birth to the baby, relates strongly on how she saw herself as an adult. She is not. At least not yet.
Jenny Slate is such a surprise. I mostly remembered her from watching episodes SNL, so i’m not surprised with her nailing down the comedic routine on stage. I love her exchanges with Nellie and Mom, which has a bit of mumblecore naturalism with sitcom-ish one liner. They are spontaneous, surprisingly honest (though could be insensitive at times), and progressively become endearing towards the end. The twist of romance is might not be new, it’s a quirky and understated, perhaps because Donna’s hate rom-com. Jake Lacy who i know from sitcoms are giving this cool, charming, loafers wearing business school student, who donna thought she would never go along with. I think the two represents the duality of social condition young people are facing in their life: realism and idealism. Perhaps he’s the Yang for her Yin. The romance shared between the two were subtly inserted in gestures and little actions, like warming butter packets or putting your feet up your partners lap. It was sweet but never saccharine.
I enjoyed the simple slice of life comedy of Obvious Child. It was relatable and honest. It’s the kind of quirky indie films about growing up and figuring things out for nowadays 20-something young adult. We find these type of films in bulk these days, but for its bravado dealing with sensitive matter and stellar performances, i think Obvious Child stood apart from the rest.
OBVIOUS CHILD (2014)
GENRE Comedy, Romance
DIRECTOR Gillian Robespierre | PRODUCER Elisabeth Holm | WRITER Gillian Robespierre | CINEMATOGRAPHER Chris Teague | MUSIC Chris Bordeaux | EDITOR Casey Brooks, Jacob Craycroft | STUDIO Rooks Nest Entertainment, Sundial Pictures, Voltiv Films | DISTRIBUTOR A24 Films | COUNTRY United States | RUNNING TIME 83 minutes | RATING R for language and sexual content | RELEASE January 17, 2014 (Sundance)
STARRING Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, David Cross, Richard Kind, Polly Draper, Gabe Liedman
DID YOU KNOW? This film is based on a 2009 short under the same name by Gillian Robespierre, Anna Bean, and Karen Maine where Jenny Slate played the same character. This is Robespierre feature directorial debut. The title itself is taken from an eponymous Paul Simon song which is also featured in the film.