by Clara Butler
|If you haven’t watched Obvious Child yet, you’re missing out!|
I’m going to start out by saying that I absolutely love this movie. I love this movie so much that I went to the Athena Film Festival to see it AGAIN because this movie is perfection. As a lover of rom-coms but also strong, female protagonists, this movie was exactly what I wanted it to be without playing into the usual tropes that frame women as solely defined by their relationship with men. This movie was the complete opposite of the “manic pixie dream girl” that shows up all too often in male driven rom-coms where the girl only exists to change the man’s perspective in some way rather than being her own fully functional human being.
Jenny Slate absolutely kills it as Donna Stern, a stand-up comedian who gets dumped by her cheating boyfriend and after a one-night stand, realizes that she’s pregnant. While Obvious Child has been dubbed “an abortion comedy”, this movie is so much more than its important political undertones. Although the movie does center around her decision to get an abortion, it’s more about a life of a woman who is trying to figure everything out and who wants both a career doing what she loves and a guy who isn’t going to treat her like shit. She also has a strong support system around her, something that is often lacking in movies, since her best friend is there for her every step of the way and both her parents are supportive of her decision. But it is super important that we finally see something that is common, yet taboo, in society played out on screen and represented in an inherently feminist way.
What really makes this movie shine though is its relatability. Unlike Frances Ha and other movies that depict that weird in-between time where you still feel like a kid but are expected to act like an adult, Obvious Child frames this “figuring it out” stage as awkward but beautiful and shows that although every one has faults and makes mistakes, they are still lovable and inherently human. Even though Donna doesn’t always make the best choices or isn’t always the most sane person, she’s still hilarious and has a great heart. Jenny Slate does a great job at letting us into Donna’s head a little because although she might make a bad choice (like hiding from the guy she obviously likes), we know exactly why she’s doing it because we both know and can relate to her every step of the way.
After the movie, the director had a Q and A that provided great insights into the process of making Obvious Child. Gillian Robespierre was a lot younger than I expected but she was just as witty and smart as the character she created on screen. Wearing an oversized sweater (much like the one that Donna wore throughout the movie), she answered questions about working with Jenny Slate, if there were any protests to the movie, and what she was working on now. Basically, Gillian saw Jenny Slate doing stand-up one night (at the same kind of place they show in the movie) and knew that she would be perfect for the short film that eventually became the feature film. Five years later, Jenny Slate starred in the film and did end up helping write some of the lines. There weren’t any protests that Gillian had heard of and the film had a warm reception at its initial premiere, not surprising since it was an underrated masterpiece that I encourage everyone to see right this minute.
If you want to check out Jenny Slate, she did a hilarious interview where she talks about her time at Columbia and here is a link to Gillian Robespierre’s twitter so you can be updated about her (awesome) current projects.
Clara Butler is a Junior at Barnard College and is the Girl Talk, Opinions, and New York Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.
Image courtesy of Obvious Child‘s official Tumblr page