Why Obvious Child is the Film of the Summer

by July 3, 2014
filed under Activism, Entertainment
Topics , ,


I was a huge ball of nervous/excited when I got asked to review Gillian Robespierre’s film, Obvious Child. A comedy about abortion, as you can imagine, has the potential to go in a lot of interesting (read: possible train wreck) directions.

I wasn’t quite sure what Flurt’s Editor in Chief meant when she said I would be a “good fit” for this project. I had never written a movie review before, but I was assured that it was a solid film and that I might actually find it quite relatable.

Actually, I found Obvious Child to be one of the most relatable films on abortion I’ve ever seen.

Abortion is a serious topic, with heavy political, personal and religious connotations. So why, you might ask, do I find this movie so relatable? And how does one make a comedy about such a charged subject?

I’ve been navigating my way through my 20’s for some time now, in many ways similar to our main character, Donna Stern (Jenny Slate): I’ve gotten drunk after a harsh break up. I’ve had a few one night stands. I definitely have more than one kick-ass feminist bestie in my entourage, and (brace yourself) I’ve had an abortion.

And I believe that all of these things have strengthened me in their own way.

Gillian does a phenomenal job crafting a script and characters that relay how abortion may not be the ideal decision every 20-something wants to make, but that sometimes it happens, that it’s okay and that you are not a bad person because of the choices you make around your body.

This film also points out that it’s okay to appreciate the humour of your humanity and the world around you in this situation, despite all its trappings.

While Gillian paints a ‘best case scenario’ – supportive friends and family, access to safe and comprehensive health care – she spotlights how badly people don’t want to talk about abortion, until they are given the ‘okay’ to talk about their own experience.

This often comes in the form of a friend, family member or complete stranger, coming out about their own abortion.

Donna’s best friend, Nellie (Gabby Hoffman), shares her experience of getting an abortion as a teen, and reassures Donna that it will not, in fact, ruin her. Donna’s mother (Polly Draper) touch-es on accessibility as she shares her story, much to Donna’s surprise, which took place when abortions were illegal in the States, and happened on a stranger’s kitchen table.

Then in the true fashion of her character, Donna shares her thoughts and apprehensions around her own upcoming procedure with her audience during a weekly comedy spot, with vulnerability and courage.

My favourite part of Obvious Child, however, was the realistic, unbiased scene focusing on Donna’s procedure. There was nothing intrusive or dramatic about it, and it was almost reminis-cent of Emily Lett’s video, released earlier this year. It showed women that abortions aren’t always a terrible, horrifying thing.

It is totally important for folks who have struggled with deciding on and accessing abortions to have the space and freedom to talk about their experience. It’s also important for folks who have had positive or neutral experiences with abortion to have that same space, and to see that repre-sented in media.

I give Obvious Child 5 feminist fist bumps out of 5. There was plenty a vagina joke, it was the perfect length and it showed abortion as something that can be safe, supported and a normal part of life – more than many are able or willing to admit. And I can relate to that.

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