The fantastic central performance of Jenny Slate is matched by a well written and refreshing stand-up comedian character, which deals with real life issues.
There’s not too much that can be said about director Gillian Robespierre, who’s film career has literally just begun. In 2008 she created a short film ‘Beach’ but really her time has been spent with the idea of creating a piece that truly represents pregnancy and the struggles than can come with this. Collaborating with friends Anna Bean and Karen Maine they embarked on realising this simple but effective idea around a young woman’s experiences of pregnancy and released the short in 2009. After gaining a following they decided it was worth telling the story in a feature format, which leads us to this certain release.
Donna Stern is a young female comedian whose material aims to project her life as a 20 something; the humour is daring and knows no boundaries. However after becoming unexpectedly pregnant she realises the responsibilities of womanhood and embarks on a journey of empowerment.
In case you haven’t already realised this is a very indie film that utilises actor’s and crew that clearly share the passion for the subject matter at hand. This is what makes for a very authentic outlook that clearly has some personal input from the writers and Robespierre. Firstly Jenny Slate perhaps best recognised for her role in Parks and Recreation among others, manages to invoke the true character of Donna. It’s a great performance no doubt one that has been perfected since the short in 2009. The unapologetic humour of Donna represents how young women are seen in modern society, something that resonates even more following the passing of Joan Rivers.
However the film is more than simply a look at female empowerment, though it clearly achieves this, the real issue is how pregnancy and more specifically abortion is viewed at current. One of the films that might come to mind in relation to this film is ‘Juno’ however despite that having a number of qualities it still shied away from representation of how very daunting that can be for a young woman. One particular scene in Obvious Child perfectly captures this fear; it involves Donna waiting on a pregnancy test when her ‘brain’ starts mocking her for not being responsible enough. This is a message about how not only such a young woman may question her decisions but how society makes it’s rather unforgiving presumptions. Far from shying away from the many fears this brings up, it tackles each issue relentlessly up to the point of the controversial topic of abortion which is handled superbly.
Though this may seem like rather bleak viewing, one if its greatest achievements is being entertaining and ultimately uplifting. This is helped by an ongoing romance between Donna and her one night ‘standee’ Max played by Jake Lacy. The scenes between the two of them offer some of the most laughs and as their friendship strengthened it was a relief to see it not hold down to the cliché’s of Romantic Comedies. With a supporting role from Gabby Hoffmann and even a small part for David Cross, these characters all felt part of the ordeal.
It’s great to see a film deal with such an issue like this with a natural tone throughout and still allowing the humour to blossom. The topics are something that really needs to be represented more and I hope this goes some way to helping realise that.
Fun and meaningful