OCTOBER BABY Review

Any time I ready myself to sit and watch a faith based film I know to expect a few things; one is a good amount of Christian-themed music sprinkled throughout while the other is questionable, slightly cheesy acting. I had not heard much about "October Baby" before going into it this afternoon except for the fact that it had to deal with the issue of abortion. I myself certainly have a stance on the issue but am not going to use this as a forum to try and persuade you to my point of view or reason why I feel the way I do. Instead I will simply offer my thoughts on the film and how that issue plays into the film is of course a major part of the story it is telling but the positive thing I can commend "October Baby" for doing is not pushing its message on the audience in an overly-preachy way. Unlike the Sherwood produced films like "Fireproof" and "Courageous" , this tends to be less pushy and self-congratulatory and more of a film that simply means well. You can take it or leave it, embrace it or ignore it and it probably won't matter because the people who decide to go out and purchase a ticket to these kinds of films already have their mind made up as to what side of the debate they are on. This is the toughest challenge facing these types of films in that the audience they intend to reach and the audience they do reach are usually not one in the same. It is a film that for all its effort means well, but doesn't necessarily render much of an emotional response.

A few of Hannah's friends fix up a ride for their road trip
to Louisiana including Chris Sligh as Bmac.
If you are as unfamiliar with the story as I was, it centers around Hannah (newcomer Rachel Hendrix) a college freshman who faints in the opening moments of her theatrical debut. She is oblivious to the root of the health issues that have plagued her entire life and seems suspicious as she has not suffered something so serious since she was an infant. This trip to the hospital brings about the revelation from her parents that they are in fact not her birth parents and that she was adopted after a failed abortion attempt. She was born extremely premature and has thus suffered for the complications of this birth ever since. As mos movies go when our main character finds out they were adopted Hannah also decides it is in her best interest to go and find her birth mother to find out who she "really is". This may make me sound like a heartless prick but the thin that bothered me most about this scenario is that Hannah seems to have it figured out as to who she is and who she wants to be. Her loving yet over-protective father Jacob (John Schneider) works at the hospital and they live a life that is remotely stress free until Hannah decides to go and complicate things. I can somewhat understand the need to find out what the reasons were that led to your life almost being taken away before it even began but the whole plot of the film, the theme of the young girl needing to discover herself, is something that could have seemingly been taken care of with a good ole family discussion.

Jacob (John Schneider) finds it hard to let his daughter go
in "October Baby".
While it is a well meaning film that certainly doesn't excuse its faults. "October Baby" in possibly more experienced and more talented hands could have been a heavy handed drama that dealt with a subject ripe with political and personal effects that has just as many shades of perception as the Bible does. What we have here though is a piece written and directed by first time feature directors the Erwin brothers. the film looks beautiful but depends too heavily on its standard soundtrack to move along scenes with montages in between dialogue heavy moments. The film is essentially a series of discussions strung together by beautiful shots of the beach and sunsets and skies and our lead characters hair blowing in the wind as she hangs her head out the window. It is all very liberating I'm sure, but the technique grows old after the first two times we see it in the first twenty minutes.  There are a few moments here and there that really hit you in the gut and that is when things get real. The moment Hannah sits down and confronts the nurse that took her birth mother to the hospital the day she went into labor is shockingly blunt compared to the rest of the film. Jasmine Guy as nurse Mary relays horrifying details about the process of some abortion operations and in that moment the audience is shook into realizing the severity of the issue these filmmakers have decided to tackle. If only this tone was more consistent throughout this could have possibly been billed as something more.

Jason (Jason Burkey) and Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) enjoy
one of many nice moments on the beach.
The worst thing that can be said about the film though is that at certain points it dips so far into melodrama that it feels you just paid to watch a Lifetime movie. The acting isn't nearly as cheesy here as I would have expected, lead Hendrix is more than capable and is able to convey some of the cornier dialogue with the strongest amount of sincerity while her on screen love interest Jason as played by Jason Burkey doesn't fare as well. The supporting cast, the most notable being Schneider, do a fine enough job of lending some credibility to the younger cast while the comic relief of the film is unnecessary and is trying way too hard. I can appreciate what the makers are trying to do here and I can certainly understand why they would feel the need to paint a portrait of what this can really do to effect the life of someone who had no say in such a determining decision. Some will criticize the film for trying to brainwash its audience into thinking one way or another about the topic of abortion, but I am not here to tell you what you should think and neither is "October Baby". It is simply there to give an example of one person's take on the matter and hopefully shed light on why they think the way they do. The point certainly could have been made in a more effective way, but I won't fault anyone for trying. I will only complain that it certainly could have been better.