Sunday, July 12, 2015

Obviously Well-Done: Jenny Slate in Obvious Child

Movie Review: Obvious Child

Director: Gillian Robespierre

Reviewed: 12 July 2015

jamesintexas rating--***

Obvious Child is a small film with a mostly unknown cast that tells a compelling story with heart and humor. It has been unfortunately labeled "the abortion-comedy" by some critics, but I think it is so much more than that. Director Gillian Robespierre expanded her short film into a feature and delves into the life of this one character who makes up her mind about what to do when she does not want a child, and in its brief, economical running time, it works.

Jenny Slate plays Donna Stern, a down-on-her-luck comedian in New York City who is struggling to find her way. In between sets at a local stand-up club, Donna works at a used bookstore, spends time with both of her parents, and trades laughs and drinks with her friends. Everything changes when after a one-night stand with Max (Jake Lacy), Donna finds herself pregnant and figures out what to do through a series of conversations with a counselor, her friends, and her mother, all the while wondering whether to tell Max and whether pursuing him for a relationship is worth it.

Jenny Slate delivers a completely winning performance in this film, and she is at her best when bouncing off of Gabby Hoffman and Gabe Liedman who play her close friends. The film has a keen eye for both humor and drama, upending some of the romantic-comedy conventions while also having some of the raunchy, graphic humor. Obvious Child has a quiet power to it and the way it tells its story through the lens of one funny, smart woman makes it stand out in a year that could have used more strong female performances. The only obvious thing to me about this movie is the care that Robespierre and Slate put into telling Donna's story, and the directness of the ending is both hopeful and sad at the same time.

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