“Unpregnant” is the coming-of-age movie all young girls need. Stellar cinematography combined with a beautifully crafted female friendship makes this picture a must watch at your next girls night.
The film chronicles the story of a typical Missouri teen Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) from a religious family who embarks on an quest for an abortion with her last resort, her punk rock former best friend. From the moment Veronica’s pregnancy test reads positive, she’s set on her decision to get an abortion. The only problem? In Missouri, parental consent is required.
In a moment of panic, Veronica drops the pregnancy test, and it slides out of the high school bathroom stall. Who should pick it up but Veronica’s former best friend Bailey (Barbie Ferreira), the punk rock bad girl à la Janice in “Mean Girls”? Bailey , ? Someone breaks into the grimey school bathroom, and Bailey quickly tucks the test into her pocket, later disposing of it in the dumpster where it is discovered by the recycling club. News spreads throughout the school, and in true high school fashion, the mystery of who could be pregnant must be solved.
“Unpregnant” is also also a timely cultural commentary in the current battle for reproductive rights. The film is sure to fill your heart with angst as you root for the main character to rekindle her friendship with Bailey and get her abortion.
Veronica returns home to find that the closest abortion clinic that doesn’t require parental consent is in Albequerquee, N.M. She finds a map and begins to plan and budget for the trip.
Finally, the audience is introduced to the baby’s father, Kevin (Alex MacNicoll) and learns he is a major human dumpster fire who lied about the condom breaking. Kevin proposes to Veronica, and she turns him down but takes the ring to pawn and fund her abortion.
As Bailey and Veronica embark on the trip, the bond of female friendship throughout the film is heartwarming and relatable. At the beginning, Bailey is portrayed as a grunge badass loner who drifted apart from the Ivy-League blonde Veronica. As the trip progresses, Bailey and Veronica learn to put aside their differences with a few setbacks. The emotions shown between the girls as they bond over topics like sex and sexuality are genuine for a young adult audience.
During the movie, it is clear to see a woman’s touch on direction. One memorable moment shared between the two girls is at a fairground in Texas. Veronica discovers that Bailey has a crush on a girl. The two girls board a fair ride and use the freedom of rushing wind to scream into the void and expel their feelings.
“We’re gay and pregnant,” the girls scream.
The film is based on the young adult novel by the same title written by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan. Director and screenwriter Rachel Lee Goldberg told Buzzfeed in an interview that she read the book before it was published and really resonated with Veronica since she had an abortion in her twenties. She added in multiple interviews that the driving factor of the movie is Veronica’s never questioning her need for the abortion.
The film also pulls off a big scare by means of anti-abortion people kidnapping Bailey and Veronica after hearing their plans. In a hilarious moment, Bailey refers to the two kidnappers as “Mike Pence” and “Karen.”
The repartee in the film is witty and current. Not one of the jokes fell flat, and all of the language was relevant but not overdone. The nuance of pop culture felt natural.
The cinematography in the film is beyond stunning. The pastel coloring of the road trip is truly awe inspiring. Regardless of your opinion on middle America, the tones of the film find a way to give it a rustic charm.
It’s clear that Goldberg worked diligently to portray the abortion in a way that wouldn’t scare off audiences. Her decision to show it in a montage-esque way by having a voice over of the nurse describing the procedure to Veronica is simple and far from menacing.
In the clinic Veronica makes eye contact with another young girl and the two share a soft smile. The moment is meaningful to both Veronica and the girl and provides Veronica with a sense of ease.
“In my dream scenario, this movie doesn’t make sense to an audience in a couple years because it sounds absurd that someone would have to drive 1,000 miles to get an abortion in a country where it’s supposedly legal,” Goldberg said in the interview with Buzzfeed. “But that’s obviously not the reality right now.”
“Unpregnant” will make its cultural timestamp on this generation of women. The film does wonders to normalize reproductive rights. Goldberg’s touch as a female director brings the film to life in ways a male director never could.
RATING: (4.5 of 5 stars)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Run time: 103 min