Much of the talk in recent weeks and months has, as we well know, been about one thing and one thing only but it has caused some of the most important economical and societal issues to take something of a back seat. One of the main issues, going toe-to-toe with the healthcare worries in the USA, is their law changes regarding abortion and a woman’s right to choose. So convoluted and full of red tape had the issue become that it is almost impenetrable – but not quite, with millions trying desperately to change the way such issues are handled.
In Eliza Hittman‘s riveting drama she tackles the situation head-on with a touching, profound film that raises the questions that many want to ask but so few look to answer despite the fact that many of the barriers in place are inhuman and wrong. Focusing on the younger generation and how they become despondent and confused by the scenarios, let alone what they are actually going through emotionally and mentally, this tells of 17-year old Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) who discovers she is pregnant. Without much support from home, she takes herself to a local clinic to take the relevant tests and watch the propaganda-driven video materials.
But she lives in Pennsylvania and here you need to tell and get permission from a parent to move forward with termination as a minor so her cousin Skyler (Talia Ryder) suggests they take a coach to New York where the rules are different and her choice and control over her own body are brought to the fore in the most infuriating and piercing way through questionnaires designed to make the decision for her.
Never shying away from the realities at play in such stressful, anxiety-inducing scenarios, Hittman’s film is a tough watch for sure but its humanist tones and warm nature makes it one of the most important in an already life-changing 2020. She tackles the issues head on, playing devil’s advocate with the processes wherever possible but delicately and beautifully balancing fact and fiction, choice v force. Indeed, this is more a story of friendship amongst seemingly insurmountable odds with Flanigan and Ryder both utterly riveting and magnificent throughout.
Whether conversations and political agendas change once the world resets itself is up for countless debates but most would do well to watch this film and try to understand what really is right from wrong. It’s a rough subject matter and UK audiences will react differently to those in the US, but such reactions will only result in one thing: something is wrong and needs to be changed. And fast.
Drama | USA, 2020 | 15 | 13th May 2020 (UK) | Digital HD | Universal Pictures HE | Dir.Eliza Hittman | Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin, Sharon Van Etten