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The Surrogate is a tale about three nice people who get pregnant and then an extra chromosome sends their happy lives into a tailspin. While spinning, they face many of the difficult issues of American society. It’s an ambitious film, not completely successful, but so ardent and well-done that it’s going to be one of the best films of the year.

Jess (the remarkable Jasmine Batchelor), black and beautiful and privileged, is the spoiled only daughter in a wealthy black New York City family. Her favorite buddy from her years at Radcliffe is a sweet, curly-haired white man, Josh (Chris Perfetti), whose husband is Aaron (Sullivan Jones), a successful black attorney.

The gay men always wanted to have what other people have, including a child of their own. Jess, not really clued in to the lack of fulfillment in her own life, decides to give her besties what they want – she becomes the egg donor and surrogate for a child she shares with Josh. The three sign a contract outlining their duties and expenses--everything is hunky-dory exciting and oh-so 2020’s progressive –until they learn the unborn child has Down’s Syndrome (D.S.).

The men’s agony is so heart-breaking you want to cry with them. But Jess, who has never experienced life’s curve balls, is convinced having the child is the right thing to do. She’s not only going to have the child, she’s going to single-handedly change society’s attitude toward disabled children.

She is blithely dismissive of the men’s grief. Armed with internet research, she drags them to meet D.S. children and their families. She seeks advice from D.S. mothers-- but their realities, which we in the audience can see because all the actors are so marvelous—fly right over Jess’ head. When she hears “We want an abortion,” Jess demands all her legal rights to choose and charges into full warrior woman mode. No one’s going to come out unbloodied, least of all herself.

The Surrogate, written and directed by newcomer Jeremy Hersh, is so real, the only way I could stand the tension was to keep reminding myself it was a movie. As a woman watching Jess’s unrelieved struggle –physical, emotional, moral--it was a riveting, unforgettable 92 minutes.  

The Surrogate opens on virtual cinema in June 2020 and then on the usual digital platforms.

Length: 92 minutes

To learn about Down’s Syndrome: go to www.ndss.org

the-surrogate 3shot.jpg

Edited by Marcianne Miller
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I thought the film did a good job of being honest about challenges of raising a Downs child. It certainly made it clear that there were various options, and none were an obvious choice or an obvious rejection.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Posted (edited)

Darrel, I'm glad a man likes this movie, I didn't know how men would respond to this movie since the woman and what was happening in her body was so central.  And Andrew, please let me know where I can see your review-- I'm curious! mm

Edited by Marcianne Miller
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I'm so glad you started this thread, Marcianne.  This really is an excellent film in every way, so intelligent and nonjudgmental, with a superb anchoring performance by Jasmine Batchelor.  Stylistically, I appreciated how the director starts by including all three leads in the frame, but as Batchelor's character feels increasingly alienated from her friends, we see more and more isolating close-up shots.  Very impressive debut for writer/director Jeremy Hersh.

Here's my full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2020/06/the-surrogate-offers-an-intelligent-study-of-a-complicated-dilemma-refusing-glib-answers/

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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Wow, wonderful, comprehensive review,  Andrew! I do agree the film should gain warranted attention for the director and the excellent cast --and I sure hope more people will see it.  I am still struggling with the woman's character and her decisions. One thing is for sure -- you will be thinking about this film for a long time afterward!

.

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2 hours ago, Marcianne Miller said:

Wow, wonderful, comprehensive review,  Andrew! I do agree the film should gain warranted attention for the director and the excellent cast --and I sure hope more people will see it.  I am still struggling with the woman's character and her decisions. One thing is for sure -- you will be thinking about this film for a long time afterward!

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Thanks so much, Marcianne.  I think it's a strength of this film that we're meant to struggle with Jess' decision-making and ask ourselves "what would I do" questions.  I won't be shocked if this makes my Best of 2020 list.

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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Thanks for the reviews, both of you. This looks fascinatingly provocative. I'll look forward to seeing it as soon as I can do so for less than two times the cost of a theater ticket.

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