Jun 21, 2014

Obvious Child

This quietly radical romantic comedy by Gillian Robespierre presents the story of Donna Stern, a struggling stand up comedian (the wonderful Jenny Slate), who gets pregnant in a night of drunken passion. She decides to get an abortion. Because she is a comedian, she makes jokes about the most private and painful areas of her life, and abortion is included. This does not mean that she is not devastated and consumed with worry by the news, but it is not a question of morality. It is her body, her future, her reality, her choice. Period. This is what is radical: there is no judgment. There is no preaching, one way or another. She made a stupid mistake and now she has to deal with the consequences, but in a state, like New York, where abortion is safe and available to women, she doesn't have to deal with the added cruelty of abortion being illegal. A quietly powerful scene at the clinic, where she is reminded of her options, serves to remind her and us that no one takes this decision lightly.
The trailer for this movie makes it look much less funny than it is. Robespierre manages to balance the saltiness of Donna's comedy with great empathy for her plight and a charming, sweet streak of romance. The characters are endearing and the cast is uniformly wonderful. This comedy flows organically as a fully developed story, instead of a series of disconnected set pieces, and this is very welcome. Obvious Child is a mature, grounded, poignant and funny comedy about abortion, which is no mean feat.

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