Obvious Child

Donna Stern tells jokes. Donna Stern meets a man. Donna Stern sits in a box. Donna Stern has an abortion. Donna Stern watches Gone With The Wind for the first time. 

In the year that Lena Dunham publicised a pro-abortion/reproductive choice view, it seems ever more relevant to suggest that Obvious Child should join in the ranks of must-see romantic comedies. When Harry Met Sally, Vivre Sa VieAnnie Hall and Pretty Woman, all deal with personal adversities, society and other seemingly ordinary parts of life. Prostitution, infidelity, religion and neuroticism, are often cinematically romanticised, glamourised and are often made into films which become cult classics. Abortions are often treated with unnecessary complexities in film.

In reality, an abortion is, or should be, a personal choice. Of course that view, is also a personal choice. Whilst some people take a religious view, others may take a more liberal view. Some abstain from the thought of an abortion, whilst others see it is an only-choice. If films depicting crime, war, infidelity or prostitution are so frequently made, anticipated over, appreciated and enjoyed; why are we not able to do the same with a film, which takes yet another ordinary, everyday choice. Obvious Child does something so entirely bold, and yet, it does so by merely depicting abortion by the view of this very one, human-being in the entire world. Is The Godfather also not the view of a secular person or group?  

Photo: elle.com

631 backers pledged $37,214 on Kickstarter, with an estimated $1,000,000 for the total production budget. It earned itself a gross of $3,123,963, and was ranked at number six on the 2014 Sundance list (Whiplash was ranked first, succeeded by the Skelton Twins). Gillian Robespierre’s feature debut Obvious Child, was that derived from her short-film, also entitled Obvious Child in 2009. In adapting her first short, what she made, was an open, forthright, funny and romantic-comedy-esque film, which itself, cast and crew, won eight out of the twenty-eight award nominations it received. 

Jenny Slate plays Donna Stern, a woman who makes a difficult choice, but in at least what we see, lives a happy life indeed. Child-star Gabby Hoffman, Inside Out’s Richard Kind and The Office actor Jake Lacey play alongside, and come together in an effortless rendition of romance, friendship and family ties. 

Stern can joke about herself and gets laughs for it too, but she certainly doesn’t skip to her abortion. She drunk-dances, her father paints puppets and cooks her spaghetti, whilst her mother comforts her in her time of need. It’s an important, serious film with humour and lighthearted moments. Up to Valentines day, the day in which her procedure is scheduled, she contemplates, cries, faces the odd coincidence, and inevitably, faces several confrontations. For the first time in her life, she has to face a bigger decision that what to do as the bookstore she works in, is about to close. 


Hoffman and Slate also play alongside Lena Dunham in Girls. Slate is writing nemesis of Hannah Horvath and Hoffman of course, plays Adam’s unable sister Caroline. It mirrors Dunham’s use of casting in her HBO series Girls and her films, including Tiny Furniture, 2010. The film certainly sits in the ranks of an independent film, and it seems that it is these independent films that are making large names of themselves. The Duplass Brothers, Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola and Quentin Tarantino are a section of successful independent filmmakers. To date, this is Gillian Robespierre’s only feature, however, Robespierre has an untitled FX road trip pilot in development with Slate and producer Elisabeth Holm to look forward to.


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