I would recommend this movie for every pregnant woman.  Because if you can't handle the horror of this film, you definitely can't handle 22 years of indentured servitude.  

My guess is that most women don't have the words to capture the fear of childbirth and raising a baby.  I certainly don't.  But this movie does a good deal in taking those nightmares and magnifying them, from almost every possible angle.  Women are pressured to have children by families, peers, and themselves, but for most parents, children actually create more stress, health issues, regrets, and misery than it is acceptable to socially admit.  It's great to see a movie that unabashedly plays with those fears.

WTF: 19
W =7
T = 6
F= 6

Your main character is Madeline, the typical ticking biological clock so obsessed with the 'mother experience' that she's had three miscarriages, been on fertility drugs, and somehow the light bulb doesn't go off that if you are really intent on making the world a better place with your parenting skills there are bazoodles of homeless parentless kids out there in need that would be grateful to have the love of a forever home and family.  But we live in a self-centered society, and it stands to reason that for thousands of years we've been biologically procreating for entirely selfish reasons.  Back when we needed labor on our farms, kids made for the cheapest you could find and lack of birth control made it impossible to avoid sans celibacy.  Even nowadays parents like Madeline will be easily understood by most viewers (aka not me).  They will understand her 'plight'.  I'm not sure why everyone including idiots, abusers, and talk show hosts believe it is somehow their 'god given right' to bring their squalling crotchfruit into existence like we don't have enough creatures ruining this planet, but for viewers like me, there's a certain satisfaction in watching this thing play out for all parties.  To a degree the film brings parallels to The Walking Dead, taking a horrible premise and making it believable, almost banal is Madeline's resolve to keep her child at all costs.    

Like anything in life, having a child comes with one hefty-ass price tag.  Check out the New Yorker's article on unhappy parenting (I think it went out in 2010) and we  encounter a slew of anonymous parents who confess (obviously is highly inappropriate to publicly wish your kid was never born) that things were better before kids were ever in the picture.  But I refer to the baseness of life, the daycare costs, vomit, screaming, shit, more screaming, crashing your car, getting herpes at 14 from half the football team, then maxing out your credit card at a head shop.  That MUNDANE kind of stuff that kids do.  We don't get that far into the picture with Grace, and perhaps that is the point of view of the piece: that the beginnings of life are insane enough to speak for themselves.

Madeline is a whole different bag of monkeys.  To begin with her family or 'support network' is strange and convoluted, her mother-in-law namely, and the doctors she seeks vs. the doctors she avoids.  Her history with the vegan dharma namaste midwife unfolds, but the actress is fabulously serious.  Her husband, interestingly, but I decided well-played, is kind of a non-entity.  Often when you have a hankering woman ready to pop one out, you have a reticent man wondering wtf he is getting himself into.  In the second scene, (weird sex scene), she clearly is looking for a fertility hose rather than an orgasm.  Then comes the product of the whole exercise: when the baby is pronounced dead, she decides to carry it to term and go through the grueling and gruesome experience of a stillbirth.  Pretty much every potential mother's nightmare.  But Grace lives. She is soon to discover that motherhood, in her case, is far from what she or anyone could ever envision, that it means sacrifice on a whole new level. Because as many of us say, unknowing, and sated with wine at family dinners: "Blood is blood."

I like this movie because it is brave, because it manages to challenge the stereotypes of both liberal and conservative approaches to family planning while taking the viewer on a gory ride through an 'unexpecting' mother's life.  While I must mention there are a few side characters whose acting is so poor and clearly waiting for a cue for a poorly meted out response they almost ruin the film (the midwife's assistant...needs to go back to the acting clinic stat...and a few others), the plot choices and the unraveling of this story make up for its shortcomings.  

So kiddies and potential parents, consider this your first "informational" video in Nurse Betty Bloodletter's Parenting 101 ("What to Expect When You're Expecting: The Horror!") Course.  

Because children are our future...or not.   

1 comment:

  1. This movie made me want to hurl. I can't stand the doula chick isn't she from everybody loves Raymond lol!