‘Obvious Child’: Short Film Review

Obvious Child made its way around the blogosphere last month, but I just watched it today. Here are some general thoughts.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, and it’s presented as such in this film. That alone is a welcome change–as others have stated–from recent film and television. Obvious comparisons have been made to Knocked Up and Juno, as both completely failed in their representations of options for a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy (the former refusing to even speak the word abortion, and the latter representing a dumpy and disturbing clinic).

The star of Obvious Child, Donna (played by Jenny Slate), is a freelancer who lives in hipster Brooklyn. Others have mentioned the “indie sensibility” of the film, and Donna is the kind of privileged hipster many of us love to hate–and she’s a little bit like Juno in this regard, with toned-down dialogue and ten years added. She has an immature sense of humor (her use of “fart-face” and “fucktard” come to mind), and she just wants to go out and have a good time after the ugly end of her two-year relationship with Joe.

But her maturity level is kind of the point. She is an obvious child. Not a woman who is ready to bring a child into the world. It’s okay that she’s childish, because she’s mature enough to recognize where she is in life, and what her priorities are. She might be a tad immature, but she’s smart and independent. What could have been a self-destructive one-night-stand was handled about as responsibly as possible, and when she learned of her pregnancy she didn’t break down. She handled it.

There are some weaknesses in the film. Donna’s phone conversation with her mother–which was the ethical high point of the film–fell flat. I like that little was made of the revelation–and comparison–of abortion pre- and post-Roe, but the acting left something to be desired. And, there is the whole privileged-white-hipster-with-easy-access-to-a-clinic issue. While the tone and tenor of the humor isn’t my favorite, I like the film and its smart, sweet nature.

Read what Jezebel, Reproductive Health Reality Check, Feministing, and Bitch have to say, and share your thoughts with us!


Obvious Child from Gillian Robespierre on Vimeo.

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