Obvious Child

Directed by Gillian Robespierre
Starring Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann and David Cross
In UK cinemas August 29th, 2014

by Joanna Orland

Obvious Child is an alternative rom-com that isn’t afraid to tackle real issues facing real American women in their 20’s.  Based on director Gillian Robespierre’s short film, this feature length debut not only makes a socio-political statement, but it showcases star Jenny Slate’s talent for both comedic and dramatic performances.  Best known to comedy fans for her role as Mona-Lisa Saperstein on Parks and Recreation, and for dropping the F-bomb on live TV in her only year as a Saturday Night Live cast member, comedian and actress Jenny Slate proves that she is more than a funny foul-mouthed Jewish girl.

Brooklyn-based comedian Donna gets cheated on, dumped, fired and accidentally impregnated all before valentine’s day.  Donna is not afraid to make the tough choice she needs to make and decides to have an abortion, all the while getting to know the baby-daddy as well as herself.  Her journey is a raw honest examination about the modern woman and the choices they are faced with in life.  The film is not afraid to tackle taboo subject matter and portray it honestly and openly.

Most would think the subject of abortion would be an anti-rom-com matter, but Obvious Child does something very clever with its premise – It takes this politically charged subject matter and humanizes it.  It also definitely has a pro-choice agenda that will leave anti-abortion movement supporters up in arms.  By humanizing the idea of abortion and watching a woman’s journey as she makes this tough decision, it widens the argument for pro-choice even further.  What are the alternatives of not having an abortion when you are unable or not ready to be a parent?

What is also genius about this story from a socio-political point of view is that while Donna is greatly affected by her decision to have an abortion, she is also allowed to move on and lead a normal life in spite of this tough decision.  While I could go further into the debate of Pro-Choice versus Pro-Life, this is not really the outlet to do so.  This movie makes a much better argument than I will anyway.  Either way, it will certainly be the subject of some heated debates to come.

Back to the film and its stars – Jenny Slate finally gets the chance to express her vulgar comedic genius balanced with her emotional fragility which is a beautiful pleasure to watch.  The supporting cast is rounded out nicely with Gaby Hoffmann as her best friend and Jack Lacy as her love interest / baby-daddy Max.  Jack Lacy as Max is charming, endearing and the perfect gentlemanly romantic foil for Jenny Slate’s foul-mouthed hilarious Donna.  Also, he is the American Nicholas Hoult – the resemblance is uncanny.

Not far off from being the filmic version of HBO series Girls, Obvious Child speaks to a generation of women, putting tough subject matter such as abortion into the spotlight, and dramatizing it in well-rounded realistic terms.  Presenting the film as a comedy rather than a serious drama is a socio-political statement in itself, reinforced by Jenny Slate’s  realistic, comedic, dramatic and overall excellent performance.

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