Tamara Jenkins’s new film stars Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti as a 40-something New York couple trying to conceive.
At this point, the Netflix movie, Private Life, doesn’t really need a plug from this blog. It scored 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s 83% rating on Meta-critic signifies “universal acclaim”. There’s also a lot of buzz around the movie that at least one of its stars could receive an Academy Award nomination.
A solid, engaging film about infertility and the struggle to have a baby
The film focuses on an issue (infertility, and how to try to overcome it) that is currently central among women’s health concerns, so we thought it deserves a little love here. Besides, it’s extraordinarily entertaining.
The movie was written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, an independent maker of intelligent cinema. Her production has been spare. It’s been 20 years since her debut (Slums of Beverly Hills) and 11 years since she made The Savages, for which Ms. Jenkins earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Jenkins drew from her own infertility experience to make Private Life
It appears that Jenkins waits for developments to occur in her own life before she can make a movie. Both Slums and Savages are overtly autobiographical, and the new movie also tracks the course of her own life. Jenkins and her husband, screenwriter James Taylor, went through what Jenkins calls their “fertility hell” before she gave birth to their daughter Mia eight years ago.
Private Life follows consummate New Yorkers Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) and Richard (Paul Giamatti). Richard used to run a small theater company, but he now makes artisanal pickles. Rachel is a successful author. Her new book is about to be published, and she is an alumna of Yaddo (an artists’ retreat/incubator in upstate New York whose graduates include Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Philip Roth, and Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow).
Sadie (Kayli Carter) is the 25-year-old stepdaughter of Richard’s brother Charlie (played by John Carroll Lynch – you will recognize him when you see him). Charlie’s wife Cynthia (Sadie’s mother) is played by the equally unforgettable but hard to place Molly Shannon.
From surrogates to adoption to in vitro fertilization and back again
Richard and Rachel (especially Rachel) are overtly successful. But their private lives are consumed with their obstinate and intractable inability to become parents. They’ve tried it all, from surrogates to adoption to in vitro fertilization and back again. They are endlessly frustrated, but the last thing you could ever accuse Rachel and Richard of is quitting.
You will get no spoilers here. If you want to know the ending, see the movie. If you don’t see the movie, you will miss a restrained, powerful performance by the ever reliable Giamatti. And all your friends will be telling you about how they knew Kathryn Hahn was going to win that Oscar. Newcomer Kayli Carter, who plays Sadie as an appealing lost soul, also deserves special mention.
It seems that one advantage of making autobiographical movies is that you really know your characters. Jenkins not only knows the inhabitants of Private Life inside and out, she loves them as well. Rachel’s edgy and desperate rants can be annoying, and Richard’s grumpy withdrawals can be off-putting, but by the end of the movie you will share Jenkins affection for her characters, and for their not so very private lives.
Let me know what you think! Thaïs
About Dr. Thais Aliabadi
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Read the full article at: www.theatlantic.com