The Private Life (2018) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
What makes director Tamara Jenkins’s “The Private Life” different from most genre films on IVF is her ability to capture the real struggles, difficulties and toil on relationships and those around them. Capturing the film mostly centred on two struggling couple (played naturally by Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti in the midst of New York provides an excellent backdrop for an unsatisfying yet satisfying experience. Having IVF is not only a tough decision to make, but also one that clearly have more implications on society, morality and humanity than how the glossy magazines tend to portray it in Hollywood. The film makes the point clear that even if we accept these circumstances, the chances of happening for 40+ or 50+ with fertility issues can be equally challenging.
Kathryn Hahn is simply wonderful in her portrayal of the true internal and external struggles on having IVF, the hormonal issues, the frustrations and the impact on others around her makes it a complete performance. Ably co-star with the often jaded Paul Giamatti who tries to inspire hope within a difficult situation as the couple endure the dream of having a child as if they forgot about anything else that remains important to maintain a workable relationship. Perhaps the shining light goes to young Kayla Carter as the niece who gets caught in the middle of it all as both the IVF donor and dealing with her own artistic struggles and parents that do not entirely agrees with her decision.
In essence, an IVF is not a simple experience as often portrayed by Hollywood, media or ads. It’s a process that requires an agreement amongst the family, it can potentially impact on relationships, those around us and all the hormonal issues that goes with it. “The Private Life” is one of those slow burner type of films that grows onto the audience slowly as we feel the frustrations, disappointment and the minute details of the daily struggles. Not a lot really happens for the two hours duration, but it affects you and as the film finishes, you understand that it’s really a part of life.
I rated 8/10
Out on Netflix