Jenny Slate plays a standup comic in Obvious Child.
What’s wonderful about Obvious Child is its intimacy. The fine writing and direction of Gillian Robespierre puts us right into the lives of its fine performers. Donna Stern, marvelously portrayed by comedian Jenny Slate, works at a used bookstore, and once a week hones her standup comedy material in a small club in Brooklyn. Donna has a kind of Sara Silverman persona, both onstage and off. She’s smart, witty, and unabridged, and you never have to wonder what she’s thinking. The film opens in the comedy club with her crude standup routine. This is the part of this film I wished I didn’t have to hear but thankfully, it’s brief.
Donna’s life crumbles under the weight of two sudden crises: the bookstore is closing, leaving her unemployed, and a one-night stand leaves her pregnant, with no money to pay for an abortion. Being strong and independent is Donna’s M.O., but how can she handle this alone? Sharing the title of a Paul Simon song, Obvious Child is about friendships and family and how people rise to the occasion when they’re needed. It’s also about learning that asking for help when you need it doesn’t make you weak. The tale may sound a bit vanilla, but the power of a story is in its execution, and this fine dramedy is a work of art. Obvious Child will get to you, and make you glad you saw it. RATING: A-