A heartfelt story disappoints
By Stephanie Merry
Friday, Mar. 23, 2012
The following transcript is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event:
I'm glad you decided to come to the Center for Movie Mediation, Steve and Roger. I know you haven't seen eye to eye in the past, what with one of you campaigning for the Virginia ultrasound bill and the other volunteering at Planned Parenthood, but I'm hoping we can have a productive conversation today about the faith-based pro-life film "October Baby."
I've decided to crystallize both of your arguments to see whether we can find common ground.
Please try not to interrupt.
Steve, I like what you said about the sweet sentiments of the movie. Actress Rachel Hendrix does a commendable job portraying the college-age Hannah. She's constantly sick, and it's taking a toll on her emotionally. Little does she know the health problems result from her premature delivery after her birth mother attempted to abort her.
I can't believe her adoptive parents never told her, either. How can an audience member not sympathize? And I can see your point about plot believability; it is possible that she'd want to take a 12-hour road trip to Mobile, Ala., to find out why her birth mother abandoned her.
Roger, please let me finish. I'm getting to you now. I don't think Steve disagrees that the whole love triangle business feels unnecessary and overdone, and, sure, the outcome is utterly predictable. If Hannah and Jason (played by the likable Jason Burkey) have been best friends since childhood, they would probably be dating by age 19. And the evil girlfriend character seems a laughable caricature. Jason's a nice guy; why would he date a witch? Especially if he plans to follow Hannah on her pilgrimage to Mobile.
I'm happy to report that you two are on the same page with regard to production quality. There is some effectively claustrophobic camerawork when Hannah has that asthma attack, not to mention serene shots of beachy landscapes. And you are unified on the soundtrack, which you two described as both unshakable and cheesy. Is that right?
I'm going to take your emphatic nodding as a yes.
Clearly Steve was more taken with Jasmine Guy's performance. An excellent point: Where has she been hiding? You described her portrayal of the nurse at the abortion clinic as breathtakingly poignant. Roger doesn't dispute that and admits to getting a little misty-eyed. Yet one line about seeing Hannah for the first time gave him pause: "I didn't see no tissue; I just saw the face of a child." I believe you referred to that one as heavy-handed, correct, Roger?
You also called Hannah mopey, after which Steve called you "a complete cynic," countering that she is dealing with some earth-shattering revelations.
But I think Roger makes an interesting point - can we agree that directors (and brothers) Jon and Andrew Erwin are more successful at portraying drama than joy? Extended scenes are dominated by heavy dialogue, while the lighter moments are relegated to montages of prancing across a beach, for example, which simply aren't that effective at buoying the drama.
But maybe I'm inserting myself into this argument too much. I'm going to turn the floor back to you two. Please remember to start sentences with "I feel" instead of "You are," and try to refrain from expletives this time.
I'd also like you both to give some thought to what the priest told Hannah when she was looking for enlightenment, because I think we could all benefit from it: Hatred is a burden you no longer need to carry.
Contains discussions of abortion.