Sunday 2 April 2023

Movie Review: Private Life (2018)

Genre: Dramedy
Director: Tamara Jenkins
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Kathryn Hahn, Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon
Running Time: 123 minutes

Synopsis: In New York City, literary couple Richard and Rachel (Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn) are in their forties and desperate to have a child. They continue to pursue invitro fertilization while awaiting the outcome of an adoption application. Richard's step-niece Sadie (Kayli Carter), a floundering college student, is an intriguing possibility as an egg donor, although her mother Cynthia (Molly Shannon) is shocked by the idea.

What Works Well: Writer and director Tamara Jenkins conceives a bitingly funny exploration of an achingly serious topic. Richard and Rachel's all-consuming desperation to pursue parenthood is treated with genuine respect and the all-too-human humour of a stressed couple. The best of intentions result in unintended consequences, exposing mismatched expectations, self-doubt, difficult conversations, emotional pitfalls, vulnerabilities, false hopes, generational divides, and inter-family conflicts. Jenkins infuses the story with an organic New York setting, while touching performances from Giamatti, Hahn, and Carter bring to life three fully rounded characters.

What Does Not Work As Well: Just a few of the dialogue exchanges are over-burdened with scholarly references.

Conclusion: The often vexatious topic of procreation receives charmingly roguish treatment.

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