OBVIOUS CHILD, DIR GILLIAN ROBESPIERRE
On 29th August, Obvious Child bursts onto UK cinema screens, and for a lucky few, Birds Eye View are hosting a preview screening at the Bulgari Hotel on Wednesday 20th August, in partnership with Koch Media. BEVer Sonia Zadurian gives her verdict on exactly why we should all be so excited
Written and directed by Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child follows aspiring stand-up comedian Donna (Jenny Slate) as she is mercilessly dumped by her boyfriend after entertaining an adoring crowd with her unashamed honesty and quick wit. Hurtling into a spiral of depression that begins with a series of hilarious voicemail messages left for her ex and culminates in a tragically unfunny gig, Donna becomes unable to write new material and rebels by burying her head in a bottle of booze. She then meets Max (Jake Lacy), a one-night stand she never expects to see again. Until she discovers that she’s pregnant…
Our introduction to Donna through her stand-up routine, littered with what we would usually consider to be grossly embarrassing admissions, sets the stage for a film that flatly refuses to gloss over what it actually means to be a woman today. That said, Obvious Child is by no means a one trick pony. Jokes about underwear stains, bodily functions and HPV sit happily alongside the darker humour of an inappropriately scheduled abortion. Importantly, both the controversial comedy and tragic seriousness of an always painful situation is channelled through a character it’s impossible not to love. Donna radiates honesty and self-deprecating humour which carries the audience through even the toughest of times, as they long for everything to turn out well for her.
During the first act, one could be forgiven for drawing comparisons to the work of Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture, Girls); both follow a young woman in Brooklyn, struggling to make her creative mark, whose frequently painful honesty results in many a cringe-inducing moment. However, at the centre of Obvious Child there resides a joyful sweetness and tender heart, the extent of which is rarely felt in the former’s back catalogue.
If there is criticism to be levelled at the film, it can only lie in what could be seen as a traditionally heart-warming dénouement, with an all too familiar happiness to relationship status ratio. However, in truth, Obvious Child pushes the boundaries of the romantic comedy genre whilst remaining camouflaged within its walls, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The film is a romantic comedy for today; a reflection of the progress being made after a resurgence in Feminism has once again sparked vital conversations. Though abortion may no longer be as taboo in the UK as it once was, the topic continues to be aggressively debated in the US. The progressive attitude so poignantly communicated is an even greater achievement considering its country of origin.
At just 85 minutes, Obvious Child is a short, sharp, bittersweet burst that will leave audiences with smiles that will stick long after they’ve left the cinema. An infinitely likeable central character combines with a strong supporting cast and an alarmingly well-observed script, resulting in a refreshingly honest yet hilarious depiction of an extremely difficult situation. Here at BEV, we’ll be watching Robespierre very carefully. After such a confident debut feature, we can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.
Written by Sonia Zadurian