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Expecting – Review


Release Date: 30th June 2014
Director: Jessie McCormack
Writer: Jessie McCormack
Cast: Michelle Monaghan - Radha Michell - Michael Weston - Jon Dore - Mimi Kennedy



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Posted June 26, 2014 by

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Expecting Review:

Actress Jessie McCormack’s first feature film as helmer comes with a rosy premise, but regrettably suffers a lack of conviction and results in something rather ephemeral.

Expecting is a candid dramedy, which centres on John and Lizzie’s inability to conceive a child and the reckless best friend Andie (played by the brilliant Michelle Monaghan), who’s accidentally impregnated during a one-night stand. So what’s their solution? Yes, you got it. Andie decides to give her baby away to her BFF, but first, Lizzie must convince her disgruntled realtor husband of the arrangement. Whilst still adjusting to having the verbally clumsy and crass Andie living with them, the unlikely couple is met with another imposition in the form of John’s fresh-out-of-rehab brother Casey, whose emotional baggage adds to the already combustible living conditions.

A thoroughly undeveloped plotline, which appears only mildly invested in the concerns of its characters, provides a weak platform for its heavy subject matter to mature, and thus sees this cyclone of circumstance crumble under its own weight. Instead of probing the pits of dysfunction, what we have here are sugarcoated encounters that dampen the impact of a potentially punchy story, and its one-dimensional narrative is far too fleeting to hope for anything more.

If you look close enough, past the stifling superficiality, shades of symbolism may be seen in the way of a broken gate that’s never fixed, correlating to the duo’s DOA relationship. But with an overwhelming sense that McCormack doesn’t entirely commit to this anecdote, such substance may easily be overlooked.

There are parallels to be made here. This charming and intimate (at times) tale of relationship turmoil, with its cosy arrangement of minimal central characters, levels up to Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said. The stark difference between McCormack and Holofcener is that the latter is a female writer/director who doesn’t rely on the strength of her immediate cast to salvage any dignity.

The parallels don’t stop there. No feature has employed this much music since Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (of all comparisons). But unlike Expecting, the many melodies of the pulpster’s western blaxploitation actually compliment the action. McCormack drowns her debut in hackneyed harmonies in a desperate attempt to glorify the banality of it all and to heighten one’s emotional attachment, compensating for an uncertain script.

Although cheap, there are some laughs to be had here via a barrage of highly concentrated sexual gags that penetrate like daggers in the ears. “What if there’s something wrong with Casey’s jizz, could it hurt the baby?” asks the loaded and ever-graceful Andie after going down on “Mr. permanent midnight”, only to follow it up by yelling from the confines of a car, “I’m seriously happy you don’t have aids. The baby doesn’t have aids.”

This is storytelling stripped to the bone and its relentless onslaught of montages does little but highlight its severe want of substance. Swearing for swearing’s sake and with kitsch quirks aplenty, Expecting is an unremarkable portrait of complex human behaviour that is deserving of so much more.


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Anthony Lowery
Freelance Contributor

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