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Obvious Child movie review: it doesn’t care if you like it

by MaryAnn Johanson

Obvious Child green light

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.

Obvious Child (2014)
US/Canada release date: Jun 20 2014 | UK release date: Aug 29 2014

MPAA: rated R for language and sexual content
BBFC: rated 15 (very strong language, strong sex references)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Bluejay

    Absolutely agree. Loved this film — its warmth, its openness, its honesty about issues that rarely get looked at with honesty, the way that the characters all feel very real and human (even Donna’s mother, who I was afraid would be the stereotypical cold, distant, overachieving parent who Just Doesn’t Understand; far from it, as it turns out). And it’s funny. I can’t think of many movies that can be described as “brave and necessary” AND “a good time at the movies” simultaneously.

    Also, I’m a sucker for the Paul Simon song. Ironic that it’s an exploration of male mid-life angst, yet is used to such great effect in a film that’s FAR from being about that. :-)

  • The characters seemed like real people I could know in real life. That happens almost never.

    More from everyone involved, please.

  • RogerBW

    Looked potentially interesting from the trailer. Not that I’m interested in grossout whatever the gender, but I’ll certainly be watching this when i get a chance.

  • Bluejay

    It’s not grossout. Just real.

  • There are only a few moments that would constitute grossout. And none of it is gratuitous.

  • Beowulf

    Lady parts….ew-w-w-w.

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