Saturday, November 15, 2014
Indie Review: Obvious Child (2014)
A Rather Less 'Obvious' Rom-Com
While horror movies have been the subject of many jokes, if there is any other type of film that has been the subject of plenty of jokes, it has to be another one riddled with cliches: the romantic comedy. But Obvious Child manages to be an anti-romantic comedy of sorts that touches on a controversial topic without making too much light of it.
Obvious Child follows the story of a bookstore keeper named Donna (Jenny Slate) who moonlights as a comedian. After her boyfriend dumps her, she meets a nice man named Max (Jake Lacy) one night after a stand-up routine when she drowned her sorrows in alcohol. Both Max and Donna then have a one-night stand, only for Donna to become pregnant afterwards. The film then follows Donna going through her decision to abort and trying to tell Max.
I'll start off by discussing the performance by Jenny Slate. Slate manages to not only manages to showcase Donna's dreadful despair but channels her character's neurosis with a rather comedic grace. She just portrays her character simply going through the motions and does a grand job at it. Not only was she perfect for this role because of her brilliant performance, but it is something about her squeaky voice that made her a good fit. Through her facial tics and high voice, Slate is able to showcase that Donna really is kind of a child herself and add some layers to her character. I'd also love to acknowledge her supporting players, including Gaby Hoffmann, who plays Donna's roommate Nellie, and Jake Lacy, who portrays Max, Donna's rather unaffected fling. I also thought Polly Draper did a very nice job as Donna's mother Nancy who is controlling yet ultimately loving and understanding.
Another thing that I thought was really nice was how even though the film deals with the topic of abortion, it doesn't necessarily glamorize it or go into the deep politics of it. Even though this is a piece of comedy portraying such a serious and controversial topic, the makers weren't trying to force feed to the audience the idea that abortion is awesome or anything like that. Although, they do use that whole device of the topic to give the ending a rather ironic twist. Speaking of the writers, I absolutely loved how even though the film is a romantic comedy, the film is void of cliches. There is no "nice guys finish last" cliche, montage of the couple separately pondering, or "true love" cliche. Thank you, writer-director Gillian Robespierre! I can't wait to see what you have lined up next!
Overall, Obvious Child is a gem of a romantic comedy (never thought I'd say that) with a fantastic star-making turn from Jenny Slate, brilliant and flawless writing, laughs and a lot of heart. It betrays conventions of its specific genre while not being too judgmental of its subject matter.
Would I Recommend It?:
If the abortion topic doesn't bother you and if you like love stories or comedies but hate cliched Hollywood "gorgeous white people in love" rom-coms, then I would say this is a must-see.