Obvious Child is a perfect vehicle for the star-in-the-making Jenny Slate. The SNL alum delivers a brilliant film with Obvious Child, which will hopefully paves the way for more unique and less formulaic romantic comedies. Both expertly written and brutally and honestly funny, Obvious Child seems less concerned with agendas and more concerned with honesty in its characters, and this elevates it above standard fare.
Donna (Jenny Slate) is a stand-up comedian who has been recently dumped and lives in a bookstore in New York. Not the prettiest portrait, but it’s something that we’ve come to see a lot of lately in modern media – more honest portrayals of young adult life with shows like Girls and Broad City and movies like Frances Ha.
After a one night stand with a man named Max (Jake Lacy), Donna finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, just in time for Valentine’s Day. She seeks advice from her friends and her parents, and ultimately settles on having an abortion.
What’s great about Obvious Child is its no holds barred, carefree attitude. It plays like a romantic comedy, but not in the traditional ways. It tackles tough issues like abortion and young adulthood, but it does it in a more honest and open way. Donna is a very well-written character, and follows an interesting arc throughout the film. Along the way, she faces many internal struggles with her relationship with Max, and she must decide if she wants something more. She’s an interesting character study for a new 21st century kind of woman.
Jenny Slate is the perfect actress for Donna. With her quick one-liners and self-deprecating standup comedy, Donna isn’t your traditional heroine. But the character created by Robespierre is a likable and unique woman, both independent and non-hesitant. Excellent supporting roles from Gaby Hoffmann and Gabe Liedman round out Donna’s posse, and the film features many memorable moments between Donna and her roommate. A brilliant scene comes when Donna first finds out that she is pregnant, and talks with her roommate Nellie about her personal experience with her abortion.
Obvious Child is a great first work from director Gillian Robespierre. A standout performance from Slate solidifies her as one of the finest actresses in recent years, and I hope to see more from her in the future. At part times honest, and at others carefree, Obvious Child is the perfect summer indie.