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OBVIOUS CHILD (review)

obvious_childOBVIOUS CHILD
Written and Directed by Gillian Robespierre
Starring Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy and Gaby Hoffmann
 

Donna: I’m having your abortion. Do you want to share a dessert?

Gillian Robespierre’s debut feature is frequently billed as an “abortion rom-com”, but it’s really so much more than that. Sure, our protagonist Donna plans on getting an abortion; yes, there is a love-interest; and the film is indeed quite funny; but OBVIOUS CHILD is far too unique and authentic to be slapped with a label.

Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) spends her days working at Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books (which happens to be an actual bookstore), and her nights moonlighting as a stand-up comedian at a dive bar in Brooklyn. After being “dumped up with” by her boyfriend, Donna goes on a drunken tirade, which concludes with her having unprotected sex with Max (Jake Lacy). Weeks later, Donna learns she is pregnant and immediately, decides that she will have an abortion. While she is pressured to think about her decision, Donna knows that this is the right choice for her at this stage in her life. When Max keeps popping up, Donna struggles with her attraction to him, and the pressure to inform him of her upcoming procedure.

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OBVIOUS CHILD gives us a bold and truthful look at the life of a twenty-something woman in New York. Upon first glance, it looks as if Slate’s Donna would be a perfect fit for HBO’s Girls, but Robespierre’s film is far more mature than Lena Dunham’s series.  As the film begins, Donna is not only childish and immature, but also completely lost; her mother points out, “You waste that 720 verbal telling jokes about having diarrhea in your pants.” As the film progresses, we see Donna begin to find herself and come to understand the world differently. Perhaps the most important thing to note about Donna, and the film itself, is that her decision to have an abortion is a confident one. The film doesn’t say that having an abortion is the right decision for dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, but it certainly says that it is a decision that can be made, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

The film provides a fitting star vehicle for Slate, a Saturday Night Live alumna who was fired after dropping the f-bomb during her first episode of the live sketch-comedy series. Since SNL, Slate appeared in a few TV shows, but none that showed off her immense talent the way that OBVIOUS CHILD does. Slate is fearless as the comedienne, daring to utter some of the most brutally honest – though slightly nauseating – material in her stand-up acts.

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OBVIOUS CHILD gives new life to the modern romantic comedy, through its sharp whit and charm of its star. If you’re going to see one funny movie about abortion this year, make sure this is it.

4 sheep

 

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2 Comments

  1. I see so many people calling this an “abortion comedy” that I actually want to see it, just so I can say with 100% truth that it’s NOT an abortion comedy. Just a comedy that happens to have abortion in it.

  2. I finally got around to seeing this. What a little gem of a movie. It’s dirty and imperfect, just like life, and damn is it funny and genuine. This is easily one of the best indie comedies of the year!

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