It used to be that, if you were going to write a movie about a woman getting an abortion, she would always end up not getting it (see: "Not So Subtle PSA: Movies In Which the Woman Doesn't Get The Abortion"). The predictability was generally without fail. In Gillian Robespierre's (not to be confused with the famous politician of the French Revolution) writing and directorial debut, Obvious Child, audiences are finally given a somewhat fresh take on the abortion story. Promotional poster for Obvious Child

Very much a movie of firsts, in fact, this is also Jenny Slate's first major role as a lead character. Though she's appeared in just about every show you've ever seen, including Bored to Death, Parks and Recreation and The Kroll Show, Slate has never quite been given the opportunity to reveal her leading lady potential. And considering that the romantic comedy has struggled to be resuscitated for some time now (as evidenced by movies like The Fault in Our Stars), it makes sense that Robespierre would be willing to gamble on a cast of relative novices, including Slate's love interest, Max (Jake Lacy). Considering the overall cynicism toward romantic comedies at the moment, Robespierre does her best to make the story as believable and romantic as possible.

Donna Stern (Slate) is, like most New York comedians, a struggling comedian. The two things she has going for her is a steady gig at a dive bar and her relationship with a typical sort of white Williamsburg fellow. One night after finishing a show in which she gets too personal for her boyfriend to bear, he finally confesses that he's been cheating on her with her best friend, Kate (who we never actually see). Crushed and emotionally obliterated, Donna spends the rest of the night with friend and fellow comedian, Joey (Gabe Liedman), getting drunk enough to the point of going home with Max (Lacy), whose made no secret of his interest the entire night.


The morning after, Donna has the natural Brooklyn reaction of fleeing Max's apartment. It isn't until a few weeks later while trying clothes on with her friend, Nellie (Gaby Hoffman, whose comeback continues to remain in full force), that she starts to notice the classic symptom of pregnancy: the tender tit. Immediately disturbed by the potential of being with child, she has Nellie go out to buy the test. Right after finding out the result, Max comes into her bookstore to ask her if she wants to go on "a proper date." She tries her best to politely decline in light of the circumstances.

Contemplating her fate

Robespierre's reinvention of a rom-com for the era of hyper-awareness and uncomfortable self-deprecation is a great start for other female directors who want to take note of how its done. And, maybe, just maybe, she's set in motion a different form of cliche in the abortion film--one in which the main character always gets the big A. It's a modern world, after all, and one of anti-moralization at that.