I’m not a fan of romcoms, I see them a bit like science fiction, imaginary tales from a world that doesn’t really exist. I’m not saying that films shouldn’t provide escapism, but I prefer my fantasies to have a more solid base in reality. So for the most part, it’s a genre I avoid unless I’ve drunk my weight in gin and am sitting on the remote.
Having said that, Obvious Child isn’t quite your everyday romcom: you won’t find Jennifer Aniston tumbling over a cute puppy here, or Bradley Cooper tipping his coffee over Katherine Heigl as they reach for the same low-cal gluten-free muffin. This is a romcom for a world where people fart and tread in dog poo and (god forbid) have soiled undercrackers. You know, the real world. It still follows most of the traditional conventions of course – a gay best friend, an oops-we-keep-bumping-into-each-other-don’t-we courtship and a first date at an abortion clinic. Oh, hang on.
Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) is a young stand-up comedian who loses her boyfriend and her job within a few days, and reacts by having an enormous meltdown, some of it on stage. When she’s not wiping snot from her nose, she’s stalking her ex and mainlining red wine, until a drunken one-night-stand leaves her pregnant and heading for the abortion clinic.
What makes Obvious Child unique is its honest portrayal of a young woman with an unplanned pregnancy and the unflinching, undramatic way she deals with it. In 2014 this shouldn’t be remarkable, but in movie-land it absolutely is. But it’s also very funny, sharply written and directed by Gillian Robespierre, with most of the jokes at the expense of Donna – Slate is great as this neurotic ball of nervous energy who doesn’t appear to have a filter.
So although it’s maybe not entirely the anti-romcom it sets itself out to be, Obvious Child’s portrayal of abortion as something women just get on and deal with is to be applauded. Better than that, it’ll make you laugh like a drain and is absolutely schmaltz-free.