Film / Reviews

Review: Obvious Child (Robespierre, 2014)

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I am wholly down for any film that opens with a dirty stand-up joke exposing the deep, dark, and secret ongoings of a woman’s underwear region… Especially when I’m sitting next to my boyfriend whose hearty laughter made me blush. I was blushing for no one and all of humankind at the same time, thinking of all the clever ways we sometimes, as women, avoid ever showing our partners our dirty underwear. Go see the movie, then come back here and continue reading.

Shut the front door. Obvious Child was written and directed by a woman? Watching it, this was clear. I hate to say that, but sometimes the way women are depicted in films these days is so bland and abhorable that it’s so shockingly obvious they arent written by women. Just because a woman is there and she’s physically strong, doesn’t give her depth or purpose. You have to write that in. Into the story…

I didn’t know anything about this film going into the theatre, only that my friend had said, “It’s so your kind of movie,” so I was eager to see what that meant. At the underwear joke one minute in, I nodded smugly. I mean, anyone who can make fun of the gross things the body can do, I’m all for it. I love Louie, after all. And Bob Saget. They’re pretty gross, but they’re men, so this film is new and exciting to me.

Written and directed by Gillian Robespierre, the flick is light and honest in ways that I am barely able to be with my own best friends. A few days after seeing the movie, I got into a bike accident and couldn’t go to the bathroom by myself. The word dilemma! rang in my ears as I asked my partner to help me. THANKFULLY I had just seen this movie and I kept thinking of the one Jennie Slate as the same-age-as-me protagonist who made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the world, and who doesn’t love that feeling? Actually, to be honest, sometimes I hate it… But Obvious Child preaches that everyone has secrets and if we could just share them with the right people who’ll take them lightly, it’ll all be okay.

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Before I go on about the importance of films like this one, I must also say that Gaby Hoffman is a talented buffoon and I wish she’d act in all the stories I’ve scripted for her. Her performance in this and as the eccentric Crystal Fairy has my twenty-something and wandering heart. I am in love with the idea of bodily freedom. To stray a bit off topic, I found this Hoffman quote that I love. Here, she’s discussing the nudity in Crystal Fairy and how she has hair under her armpits and a bush: “People are obsessed with actresses being hairless, fatless Barbie dolls. They can’t imagine that people would want to be anything other than that. When they are, it’s looked at as almost a political statement. Look at Lena Dunham. She is a gorgeous woman and people can’t stop talking about how brave she is to show herself naked, which I find totally condescending and ridiculous. If Angelina Jolie was naked onscreen no one would say she was brave. The implication is that Lena’s brave because she doesn’t look the way she’s supposed to look. I think that’s a shame.” (source) I concur.

Back on track now, films written , directed, and depicting womanhood are crucial in our cultural landscape. Economic changes have made the generational gap between twenty-somethings and their parents as large as galaxies. While our internal struggles with identity and connection seem to stand tall against time, the trials and tribulations of attaining independent womanhood in healthy and prosperous practice is tough without the right support. Films like Obvious Child show the masses (okay… the theatre was chalk full of us women, but it has the potential to show the masses) that it’s okay to experience doubt, failure, and feelings of being adrift at sea.

This new era of female filmmaking is spontaneous, fresh, and funny. I am currently obsessing over how great it is by absorbing the efforts of other groundbreakers like Lena DunhamKristin Wiig, and Mindy Kaling, all women who are taking honest comedy to the public sphere. I can only hope that my voice will be alongside them shortly.

As my friend said to me, I will say it to you: This is so your kind of movie.” Go see it because these starts of stories are important to support. This one’s hilarious, too, which always helps.

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