Obvious Child movie review: it doesn’t care if you like it
Beautifully redresses how the realities of women’s lives are too often ignored on film… and does so with startling raw power and humor.
I’m “biast” (pro):
I’m desperate for movies about women as real people
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
I keep thinking about the anecdote that flew around the Internet this summer from Tina Fey’s book Bossypants, in which she described how, in the writers’ room at Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon got squicked out by Amy Poehler being less than demure and ladylike, told her that it made her less cute and likable, and she rounded on him with “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” You may not like 20something New Yorker and standup comic Donna Stern (Jenny Slate: This Means War), because she is far from demure and far from ladylike in her life and certainly in her standup routine, which focuses on such indelicate realities as the fact that women have functioning human bodies that produce gross fluids, enjoy having sex, and sometimes get inconveniently pregnant. Or, like me, you might love how unapologetic Obvious Child — an auspicious debut from filmmaker Gillian Robespierre — is about the truths of women’s lives that are too often ignored on film… and how it does so with startling raw power and humor. From the funny, messy, friendly one-night stand Donna has with sweet Max (Jake Lacy) to the frank, no-regrets conversations about abortion with her best friend, Nellie (Gaby Hoffmann: Veronica Mars), after she discovers she’s pregnant at just about the worst possible moment in her life, this represents the start of a beautiful redressing of the absence of fundamental female experience on film. Women’s lives are not mysteries, and women are not unknowable alien creatures: it only seems that way because while every aspect of boys’ and men’s lives has been relentlessly documented and examined by The Movies, the same courtesy has not been extended to the other half of the human race. (Guess what? If semen is considered a valid cinematic motif to be discussed, ewwed over, and splattered around onscreen, then so is vaginal discharge.) I can only hope that this new openness is here to stay.