San Francisco International Film Festival 57
Remember the funny Jewish girl with the blond but bland boyfriend in The Way We Were (1973)? Sure, you do. But, don’t worry. Streisand and Redford weren’t recalled into service. This is interfaith coupling 2.0. Directed by Gillian Robespierre (how could you not be radical with a name like that?), Obvious Child finds stand-up comic Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) breaking up with her boyfriend who can’t handle their sex life recounted onstage. Simultaneously, the book store where she works is about to close. Will she find new love? Will she find a new job? Will it all be fodder for her act. Two “maybes” and a yes. Donna has a best girlfriend (Gaby Hoffman) and a best gay friend, fellow comedian Joey (Gabe Liedman). So, she has plenty of emotional support but financial aid from her professor mom (Polly Draper) comes at a price. Donna’s comedy doesn’t break any new ground. It’s mostly concerned with bodily functions. However, the scenes of her performing have an immediacy and don’t suffer from the fake quality that’s hampered other movies about comedians. She also has a quirky sexiness we boys like.
Enter Max (Jake Lacy). He resembles Matt Damon more than Robert Redford, but who’s complaining? Certainly not Donna. If not a real Navy man, at least he has a Banana Republic pea coat. She’s afraid she’s not pretty enough for him. He’s afraid he’s not hip enough for her. She teases him about his boat shoes but appreciates his depth and he’s obviously smitten with her. Still, their collective insecurities cause endless confusion. Despite the obstacles Robespierre stacks in their way, is there hope for them yet?