"I remember seeing a condom; I just don't know what it did."
Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) is an up and coming comedian doing the rounds of the New York comedy scene. After suffering a brutal break up she has a one-night stand with a young man, Max (Jake Lacy), she meets at one of her shows. A few weeks later Donna discovers that she is now pregnant. She makes the decision to have an abortion, if only the decision to tell Max was as easy…
Working off of her original short film (of the same title), first time feature director Gillian Robespierre has expanded her story into one of those rare, little gems of a film that you get maybe once or twice a year. It manages to seamlessly float between being hysterically funny, beautifully sweet and elegantly poignant all while keeping the audience totally engaged and invested in what is unfolding on the screen. What truly makes the film a joy to watch is the fact that it is clear Robespierre clearly cares about her characters and wants to make them as real and down to earth as possible. As such the film never shy’s away from showing the audience the real moments, both comical and sad, whether it be the shock accidentally farting on somebodies face while urinating in the street or the courage it takes to admit a truth to a loved one.
The success of the film is due, in large part, to the absolutely breathtaking performance by Jenny Slate (of brief Saturday Night Live fame). “Obvious Child” is without a doubt the perfect vehicle for Slate and her performance is nothing short of dazzling. It is always difficult for an actor to tackle subject matter as off-beat as abortion but what Slate manages to convey in her performance is not only grounded but genuine, you really believe ever moment and though that Donna is processing as she navigates her way through the quagmire she finds herself in. Jake Lacy bounces off her perfectly as the man responsible, bringing a charm and grace to what could otherwise be portrayed as a one-note character. The chemistry between the two is so authentic that it becomes a joy to watch the two in scenes together. Gaby Hoffman and David Cross also turn in great performances as Donna’s friend and a senior comedian/would-be-suitor respectively.
The film manages to, while not necessarily subverting the romantic comedy, present a new and original take on a genre that has long become stale and repetitive. While being both tender and emotionally rewarding, “Obvious Child” is also definitely the funniest abortion film you’ll see in a very long time.
7.5 our of 10.
Reviewed by Chris Swan.