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Sydney Film Festival Review – Unexpected

maxresdefault (2)Co-writer and director Kris Swansberg is able to create a Sundance film expressing the struggles of the transition of becoming a first-time mother, with a hint of humour.

High school teacher Sam (Colbie Smulders) is enjoying her job teaching science at an inner-city school in Illinois. However, her job is at risk because the school is set to shut down, leaving the staff seeking for new employment. Sam finds a listing of her dream job online, a museum staffer, who sets the curriculum for the district, but she is suddenly losing hope when she realises she is pregnant. This was not planned for her and boyfriend, John (Anders Holm) and she breaks the news quite sadly.

In a means of support, John proposes to her over breakfast the next morning and they go to the courthouse to get married almost instantly – an idea that Sam’s mother (Elizabeth McGovern) doesn’t really approve of.

Looking to connect with someone, she discovers that one of her best students, Jasmine (Gail Bean), is also pregnant. The two create a new special relationship that transcends traditional teacher-student professional communication.

The film is not only about the drama that exists within the new experiences of becoming a mother, but also the different socio-economic states that both are in. Sam grew up in middle-class white privileged life, with divorced parents, while Jasmine, with an African-American background, lives on the other side of town, being raised by her grandmother and has to both work and go to school.

The film is able to really capture the realism of pregnancy, the emotions, the things that make a pregnant woman feel sick and the over-eating. The characters do feel like real people. It gives a good realistic depiction of women and the hardships they have to go through in the modern world.

While the film is a drama, it does have some great humour in it that didn’t feel forced. It worked into the story well and was able to give the audience a relief from the hardships these women were going through.

All together, in the fashion of Sundance, Unexpected provides the journey of pregnancy from two distinct views and socio-economic states. Smulders and Ben give beautiful performances that leave the audience in an understanding of the difficulties that they are both going through in the two different worlds they are from. Mixed with humour, the film is quite uplifting and teaches us not only about the struggles of unplanned pregnancy, but also friendship.

Review by Emilia Aslan

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