Obvious Child is a film that presents a complex and possibly controversial story in a way that is light and respectful and I loved it. Seeing Jenny Slate at the centre of the film which is about a woman who decides to have an abortion after a one-night stand makes you realize how few strong and realistic roles there are for women in films today. It’s not a big film and it doesn’t so much make a statement as paint a picture of characters and choices that they make. Technically and financially there aren’t a lot of reasons why there can’t be a lot of films like Obvious Child, but that’s not the world that we live in, and when a great film like this gets made, it’s so nice to see and enjoy.
Written and directed by Gillian Robespierre and based on a short film she made with Slate a few years earlier, it’s filled with great moments between the cast. Shot in a naturalistic style and taking advantage of the Brooklyn locations, it’s a quirky film that has an edge which I liked. While Jenny Slate could have been a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, there is a darkness and depth to her that is explored through her relationships with friends and parents. The best type of exposition is indirect and I love it when a film doesn’t spell everything out.
The relationships at the core of the film are between Donna Stern (Slate’s character), her best friend Nellie (played delightfully by Gaby Hoffman), and her other friend and comedian Joey (Gabe Liedman). They have some great conversations and it is in the dialogue that the film shines. The easy style of interaction flows through the film and with an awkward central character at the heart of it. She’s surrounded by other unique characters in a way that makes sense and highlights how she became the person that she is. It’s a gem of a film that exemplifies all the best elements of independent filmmaking.