Obvious Child - 2014
Director(s): Gillian Robespierre
Writer(s): Gillian Robespierre (screenplay) / Gillian Robespierre, Karen Maine and Elisabeth Holm (story)
Cinematography by: Chris Teague
Editor(s): Casey Brooks
Cast: Jenny Slate, Paul Briganti, Gaby Hoffmann, Richard Kind, Polly Draper, Jake Lacy and Gabe Liedman
Hey, it is the day before Valentine's Day, and everyone is churning away their recommended list of movies to watch with your loved one. So here I am pretending I am doing something different to drive the clicks. I wanted to watch something off the beaten path within the romantic comedy genre, and one that I could conveniently place in the modern section of my website. I quickly landed on one of my quietly go-to movies of recent memory; Gillian Robespierre's Obvious Child. Let's talk about it.
The story follows Donna Stern (Slate), a twenty-something bookstore clerk at a book store that is going out of business. She also moonlights as a standup comic. After being dumped by her boyfriend, in favor of her friend, Donna decides to drown her problems in alcohol. During this night-out, she meets Max (Lacy), the best stranger she has ever known, and they have a one-nighter that ends in pregnancy. This is the feature film debut of writer-director Gillian Robespierre, and she started with a bang. The script manages to playoff many of the clichés romcoms are built on and rework them in a way that comes across familiar yet refreshing. Robespierre filled the world she created with characters that are real, vulnerable and flawed, allowing the audience to connect with them as they are mirrors to the people around them. They aren't cartoon exaggerations of the perfect male and female leads of romcoms.
This vulnerability is mainly showcased through our lead, played wonderfully by Jenny Slate. Movies tend to depict comedians as the stand-off type, always pushing everyone and everything away through their jokes. Donna's comedy is personal, as they are extracted from retelling events of her life. So when things in her life start to fall apart, Donna is raw and honest and we never question her motives, since she has not given us a reason not to trust in her. My favorite scene that showcases this trait from her comes when she is at the doctor's office and expresses that she wants an abortion. When the doctor asks her to think about it, through tears in her eyes, she states that she has and knows that this is what she wants. It doesn't come across as "Yei abortion," or it isn't meant to be taboo, it is intended to be honest. An honest portrayal of a woman that knows she doesn't want a child and is not afraid to say it and do it. On the other hand, Max, played by the charming Jake Lacy, never questions her right and is understanding to her needs, something rarely shown by Hollywood.
Obvious Child doesn't have anything flashy in technique and it doesn't revolutionize the industry in any way. It is the type of film you easily love, because of the funny, charming and welcoming characters. You shall in love along with them, and you root for Donna as he journeys out of the hole life placed her in. With a short and tight runtime of an hour and twenty-four minutes, it makes for a quick and entertaining viewing that always leaves you wanting for more, as the story fully invests you by the end and you want to stay with the character longer. Gillian Robespierre wrote and directed an honest portrayal of modern love and a damn funny one at that. Give it a shot this Valentine’s Day or any day.
Obvious Child is Why I Love Movies.
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