Editor’s Note: For more on October Baby–reviews, pictures, and videos with special features–see this exclusive CE information page.
Everyone in America should see October Baby and cherish it like the innocent life it celebrates.
Not because it’s a perfect film. It’s based on a great story, though, an important story, and one we haven’t seen before; in the end, it packs the wallop of greatness despite its flaws. October Baby is a beautiful woman, who could use some help with accessorizing. She’s still a stunner, though.
Critics with prejudices against its powerful message will try to limit the film’s audience through valid but secondary complaints, I’m afraid. Even those predisposed to that message may find themselves tapping their toe with impatience early on. By the end, though, if the viewer’s soul doesn’t already belong to the culture of death, he will be moved by the film’s cathartic moments and feel its release of the power of forgiveness.
You’ll weep, and be glad you did.
The central character, Hannah Lawson (Rachel Hendrix), should not exist. That’s both essential to her story-line and the likely inference of those “pro-choice” advocates who will hate this film on principle. She came into the world after a failed abortion attempt. October Baby traces Hannah’s quest as a young college student to understand her life and the people in it after a medical emergency forces the disclosure of this secret.
There are such people in our world today (the source of the title, I’m guessing) and like them Hannah suffers long-lasting emotional and physical challenges caused by birth trauma.
October Baby stumbles as the quest begins, focusing on too many slow, solitary walks, as the overbearing emo score keeps dictating emotions we aren’t ready to feel.
Hannah’s conflicted relationship with her father, Dr. Jacob Lawson (played well, if shaggily, by the badly-in-need-of-a-haircut John Schneider) crops up, but in ways that don’t seem inherent to the characters’ natures. As a whole, the relationship of Hannah with her parents consistently makes less sense than it should.
Since her parents have hidden the facts of Hannah’s adoption from her, as well as the traumatic circumstances of her birth, she remains disconnected from them to a surprising degree. Or so we are implicitly asked to assume. That’s just not much in evidence, however. Her parents are concerned and involved while making every effort not to be overbearing.
We hear that she was home schooled, and learn that she remains a virgin and likes it that way. She even admits to the justice of her friend’s complaints that she doesn’t have a wild side. This is a good girl with great parents—and gorgeous to boot. What’s so wrong? We are not buying it—not yet.
The first revelation of her botched-abortion birth only moves us to accept the troubled emotional life her father discovers in her journal. At this point we can believe then that she might have become more alienated—and even dissociative—than anyone, including Hannah herself, may credit. Nothing more gets dramatized, though, than teenage angst surrounding the frightening epileptic seizure Hannah experiences during her college theater debut.
Next come college student road-trip scenes constructed out of half-hearted clichés.
The film gets Hannah properly into her quest when she escapes from the road trip and meets the clinic nurse (Jasmine Guy) who was with her birth-mother during the botched abortion attempt and subsequent delivery. The clinic nurse, finally disgusted with the clinic’s procedures, made sure that Hannah’s mother made it to a real hospital and a delivery room. With this scene the film finds sure-footing and comes to life.
Jasmine Guy tells the background story with enough toughness for us to believe she could have worked for the Planned Parenthoods of the world and enough poignancy to persuade us that she hasn’t forgotten Hannah or her mother all these years. The episode turned the former clinic nurse’s life around, as Jasmine Guy’s performance turns the picture in the right direction. Jasmine Guy is so good, in fact, that we don’t even mind all the pieces coming together just a little too quickly. The former TV ingénue turns in a performance that should send a thousand scripts her way.
For more on October Baby see this special CE information page.
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