Compassion in the Clinic- The Progressive- 9/1/14

The Supreme Court decided from within its 100-foot buffer zone that Massachusetts’ thirty-foot buffer zone around clinics interfered with citizens wanting to dialogue with other citizens, mostly women, who were trying to get to health care appointments.

A couple of days after the SCOTUS decision, I went to see the movie Obvious Child. It was nice to get out of the house and take a break from my new hobby: putting contraceptives in bedazzling glue guns.

Getting into the movie was difficult that evening because placid visitors to Provincetown were lined up outside a busy ice cream store, blocking access to the theater. So I waved my “Death by Chocolate” sign at the gauntlet of comatose cone-lickers and screamed in their faces that they were killing their children with sugar. It was a good chat.

The Waters Edge Cinema is a one-and-a-half-a-plex and the thin walls separating the large theater from the smaller viewing room could use some sound buffering. Most locals have learned to compartmentalize aurally, so were not bothered when the Jersey Boys next door sang “Big Girls Don’t Cry” just as Donna, the lead in Obvious Child, sobs after getting dumped by her boyfriend.

Obvious Child is an independent romantic comedy about Donna, a twenty-five-year-old Brooklyn standup comic who gets dumped, has a drunken breakup hookup, gets pregnant, and has an abortion.

I usually avoid so-called rom-coms because I get so worried for straight people.

I usually avoid movies about stand-ups because they are bathetic, such as Sally Fields in Punchline, Sandra Bernhard in King of Comedy.

I usually avoid movies about abortion because they are about abortion.

But I needed a break, and the movie was only eighty-six minutes long.

From the first scene of Donna doing a stand-up gig at a Brooklyn bar, there is an immediate warmth, sexiness, authenticity, and humor that another Brooklyn-centric series, Girls, achieves only occasionally. Donna’s friends, both gay and straight, her parents, and her new beau are all there for her.

Her comedy sets, from the successful to the disastrous, reflect a comic using her life as material. She grapples with being as honest off-stage. She loves what she does and sees the buoyancy of humor as a way of coping with, not avoiding, life.

Her drunken one-night stand with the Midwesternly decent Max is joyful, raucous, hot, and fun, not some puking, pass-out, hideous humiliation frat scene. It happens.

When she finds out she is pregnant, she know what she must do. Donna says she can barely take care of herself and understands she must choose an abortion. It is a sad but unapologetic decision. In a very moving scene, and without the bidding of the state, Donna seeks counsel from her mother who reveals that she has gone through the same experience.

Lucky for Donna, there are no in-your-face petitioners carrying grotesque fetal signage wanting a moment to chat with her on her way into the clinic. The nurses and doctors are compassionate and professional. She sits in a crowded recovery room after her procedure. She is not rejected by a huffy, put-upon, irresponsible sex-partner. Max shows up to take her to the clinic. As they go into the clinic together, Jersey Boys could have been singing “Walk Like a Man.”

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