'Unpregnant' Review: A touching, high-spirited debate against pro-life via a teen's quest to avail abortion
The movie is heartfelt even at its lowest points. And although 'Unpregnant' offers a redundant BFF dynamic, it is refreshing only owing to Richardson and Ferreira's chemistry
Spoilers for 'Unpregnant'
The closest abortion clinic is 996 miles away. The entire trip there is going to cost her $1,100, but 17-year-old Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) has only $1,077. That is also why she is traveling all the way for the procedure as the underage young woman requires her god-fearing parents' permission.
So it's decided. But how does she travel all the way there? After all possible options become invalid, Veronica knocks on the doors of ex-best friend Bailey (Barbie Ferreira) for help. And together, the two embark on a road trip that might be a tad bit cliched but packs a thoroughly enjoyable ride.
Adapted from Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan's YA novel of the same name, 'Unpregnant' is directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg, who brings the comic element to the movie. Compared to the predecessor Eliza Hittman's abortion drama 'Never Rarely Sometimes Always', which also follows two teenage girls played by Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder, 'Unpregnant' sees a new treatment to the issue of women's sexual rights and their agency to exercise it.
When Veronica and Bailey begin their journey, there is some tension between them as they haven't even remained acquaintances over the last few years. But Veronica's Type-A personality barriers are broken down by Bailey's free, energetic spirit. Along their way, hurdles are unavoidable but 'Unpregnant' relies on the kindness of strangers to drive its point home.
These strangers are played by Giancarlo Esposito, Betty Who, Breckin Meyer, Sugar Lyn Beard and Denny Lee, and are a mix of good and bad. There is a constant debate with religion in the movie. Veronica's parents are staunch believers in God. When on the road, they are confronted with a pro-life couple with their dozen kids that does not believe in abortions. Things escalate quickly leading to a chase sequence. "We just like women to make informed decisions," shouts the man while riding them down in a trailer bus that sports aggressive pro-life posters, practically attacking their lives. This might feel a bit caricaturish but in the context of the movie, it fits just right. In the following sequence, for the first time, Veronica has a breakdown about her situation, despite her initial composure.
'Unpregnant' begins fast and rides on high spirits throughout. The movie is only driven by Richardson and Ferreira's energy and charm. There is hardly any doubt -- and it shouldn't really count as a spoiler -- that the movie is about Veronica eventually reconnecting with her best friend as she is confronted with the truth about her. At the same time, it tells the simple story about a woman's right to make decisions for her body without seeking approval from her parents and/ or a crazy, stalker-ish boyfriend who only pretends to be nice.
Written by Goldenberg, Caplan, Hendriks, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, William Parker, the movie is heartfelt even at its lowest points. And although 'Unpregnant' offers a redundant BFF dynamic, it is refreshing only owing to Richardson and Ferreira's chemistry.
'Unpregnant' is currently streaming on HBO Max.