Obvious Child review


Credit: Rooks Nest Entertainment

The last time I was at Sundance London, I was bawling my eyes out during Emanuel. This time since I was seeing a friend for the first time in eight years, I chose something that wouldn’t make me embarrass myself. We went to the UK premiere of Obvious Child, which turned out to be not only funny, but also super quotable.

Romantic comedies get a bad rep these days, but Gillian Robespierre’s feature debut is a refreshing take on the single girl’s quarter-life crisis. Jenny Slate stars as Donna, a comedian who gets dumped, fired and pregnant just in time for Valentine’s Day. She decides to have an abortion, but as her one night stand with unassuming Max (Jake Lacy) turns into a string of dates, she finds it harder to tell him the truth. Beneath all the dirty jokes, this is an unconventional rom-com with a lot of heart.

Like me, you might recognize Slate from Saturday Night Live. She’s a genuinely hilarious stand-up comedian, but I had no idea she was capable of carrying a movie. I’m not saying she’s Hollywood’s next leading lady, but I could definitely see her in her own TV show. She and Lacy make an odd couple, but it kind of works. Max is a geeky teacher’s pet that Donna describes as so Christian, “He’s like a Christmas tree.” He’s the anti-jerk, which is one of the things that keep the movie so fresh.

Without giving too much away, Robespierre avoids some conventions of “the abortion movie”. She co-wrote the film with Karen Maine and Anna Bean. They’re not actively trying to make a political statement, but they don’t shy away from serious issues either. And Donna’s dirty humor keeps the subject from getting too heavy.

Obvious Child began as a short film on YouTube in 2009. Partially funded through Kickstarter, it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. It’s now been picked up by A24, and will be in theaters June 6th.

I’ve also posted the Q&A panel with Robespierre and Maine at Sundance London. Spoilers!

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