By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on July 11, 2015)
It’s official. Saverio Costanzo’s turgid family melodrama has supplanted Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby as Worst. Prenatal. Guidebook. Ever. Two NYC millennials, Jude (Adam Driver) and Mina (Alba Rohrwacher) Meet Cute while temporarily trapped in a bathroom at a Chinese restaurant. Budda bing, budda boom, next thing you know there’s a ring, then a marriage, and then it’s time to buy a baby carriage.
While such whirlwind courtships can be titillating and quite romantic, would you agree that they sometimes circumvent the part where…you get to know the other person a bit (outside the biblical sense) before taking vows? Imagine Jude’s surprise when Mina’s pregnancy reveals all kinds of new layers to the woman he thought he had married. Without giving away too much, let’s just say Mina has phobias…and one or two health anxieties. And once our bundle of joy arrives, all poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.
Driver (who should be instantly recognizable to fans of the HBO series Girls) and Rohrwacher deliver intense performances, but it feels for naught, as Costanzo’s script (adapted from Marco Franzozo’s novel) skids all over the genre map. Is this a horror thriller? Sirkian soaper? Cautionary tale? Dark comedy? Perhaps it’s a commentary on the rise of the helicopter parent; or a satirical jab at gluten-free, peanut-allergy hysteria and vaccination paranoia (along the lines of Todd Haynes’ more sharply observed Safe). One thing I can say for sure to parents: I would not recommend this one for Date Night.