Conceptions (Film Thoughts: The Surrogate/Unpregnant)

Jeremy Hersh’s ‘The Surrgate’ is one of the most thought-provoking films I have seen this year. It has become fairly common for A-gay couples to have a child, as if it’s an added accessory, and I can’t help but think and wonder if some of those couples are really on- board with raising a child, or is it all for ‘appearances’? In the film, Jasmine Batchelor plays Jess, a young woman who agrees to be a surrogate for her close friends. All is fine and dandy until they get a results of a test indicating the child will probably be born with Down’s syndrome.

And then things change, naturally, The couple realize they may not have the financial well-being to bring this child in a world with this suddenly more difficult situation. Batchelor is fantastic here, one of those ‘finds.’ Once they may a decision about her well-being, she spirals into a loop of different things. She wants to make her own decision about the fetus, her family has concerns about her being a single black mother, a cliche she did not want to be lumped under. Hersh present this all without judgement – one minute you are on one side, the next you are on the other. These characters are all complex, and they are all real. The cast is made up of theater performers, so they shine in the dialogue driven scenes, making you ache for what they are feeling. The film leaves you with a heavy heart.

It’s funny how one movie tackles the same subject and can have a much different tone. In Rachel Goldenberg’s ‘Unpregnant,’ a young woman Veronia (Hailey Lu Richardson) also finds out that she is pregnant. But there’s no dilemma here, she wants to terminate the pregnancy, and there is no question that it is ultimately the best decision for her – she is young, has teh world ahead of her, and has worked her ass off for everything she has been working for. She has a boyfriend who’s dumb but in live with her, so it would have been an easy out, but no, she had no plans of spending the rest of her life with him anyway.

She then asks her former bestie to take a road trip with her from Missouri to New Mexico. Her state requires her to have parental consent to terminate her pregnancy, and her ultra-conservative parents will never go for it. The movie then becomes a road-trip one as she travels several states to get to New Mexico. here’s where the film got a little dicey for me. Call it weird, but I am not the biggest fan of road trip movies – the journeys are never believable to me, and the ones here are no exception. Do you really meet those interesting people on the interstates? While I like the spirit of the film, it took a bit for me to get there, but nevertheless the film was mostly enjoyable anyway, thanks to the great performances – Richardson is charming and radiant. I bet some people will really despise this film based on their religious and political beliefs, and good, maybe it will get them to think.

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