(director/writer: Jeremy Hersh; cinematographer: Mia Cioffi Henry; editor: Cecilia Delgado; cast: Jasmine Batchelor (Jess Harris), Chris Perfetti (Josh), Sullivan Jones (Aaron), Brandon Michael Hall (Nate), Brooke Bloom (Bridget), Tonya Pinkins (Karen Weatherston-Harris), Eboni Booth (Samantha), eon Addison Brown (Leon),Tiffany Villarin (Maria), Erin Gann (Dan), Catherine Curtin (Sarah Friedberg), Meg Gibson (Sandra), Layla Khoshnoudi (Gertrude), Jennifer Damiano (Rachel the Waitress ), Purva Bedi (Diana), Jennifer Lim (Nadine the Midwife), Hannah Cabell (Restaurant Manager, Wesley Taylor (Dave), Hunter Canning (Kevin), William Demeritt (Pierre); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Julie Christeas, Jonny Blitstein, Taylor Hess, Jeremy Hersh: Monument Releasing; 2020)
“Smart but talky indie drama of liberal New Yorkers concerned with a surrogate pregnancy and Down syndrome, as well as morality issues over abortion.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The film debut of gay filmmaker Jeremy Hersh is a challenging one. Hersh is the writer-director of this smart but talky indie drama of liberal New Yorkers concerned with a surrogate pregnancy and Down syndrome, as well as morality issues over abortion.
The independent minded and very opinionated Columbia grad and 29-year-old black woman, Jess (Jasmine Batchelor), who commits to no boyfriend after dumping the unstable sometimes bf Nate (Brandon Michael Hall), is a yoga enthusiast and a nonprofit web designer and does volunteer work in Brooklyn to assist previously imprisoned women trying to adjust to civilian life. Jess is also an unpaid surrogate, donating her egg to an affluent gay couple to make a political statement. She knows Josh (Chris Perfetti) when both were undergrads, and has accepted his relationship with his lawyer husband Aaron (Sullivan Jones). It turns out however that her prenatal test after twelve weeks indicates the baby will be born with Down syndrome. This leads the humanistic Jess to locate a community day center in Manhattan where Down syndrome children can play together and parents can bond. There she befriends the realistic Bridget (Brooke Bloom) and her son, Leon (Leon Addison Brown). She also brings along Josh and Aaron to help them get involved in support groups for their future child, but the stunned daddies reject having the child.
When Jess plans on keeping the baby, her well-off mother (Tonya Pinkins) is reluctant to help her with the finances and thinks Jess is making a rash decision she will regret down the road.
An outstanding performance by Jasmine Batchelor and an excellent script exploring the reality about raising a special-needs child is impressively handled, letting us get an idea, with no lecturing or finger pointing, of how educated progressive liberals might handle such a delicate situation. The suspense builds, because we don’t no the outcome of Jess’s decision to abort or have the baby until the final moments.
REVIEWED ON 6/16/2020 GRADE: B+