Private Life (2018)

I've been meaning to watch Private Life since it released as I love Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti but I kept putting it off because of the plot. Now that I'm finally working on my best and worst of 2018 post, I figured it was time for me to check this out. 

The story follows Richard (Paul Giamatti) and Rachel (Kathryn Hahn), a couple in their forties who are desperately trying to have a kid by any means possible. Just when they think they are out of options, a new opportunity presents itself, to use an egg donor. While Richard is fine with it, Rachel struggles with the idea of using some stranger's eggs but when Sadie (Kayli Carter), the stepdaughter of Richard's brother, Charlie (John Carroll Lynch), drops out of college and stays with them in New York, they decide to ask her.

Private Life does a really good job at portraying the commitment, stress, energy and money involved in the IVF process. Director and writer Tamara Jenkins has clearly done her homework —she went through this herself, if I'm not wrong— and it shows as the film is very informative and eye-opening about the subject. The film also shows how far people are willing to go to have children of their "own" not matter the consequences, and I'm not talking about only the egg donor thing, but the ending as well —which, apparently, didn't resonate with many people.

Unfortunately, the story isn't as compelling and engaging as it should have been, it's not always consistent, it's often redundant and it doesn't always make a lot of sense. In addition, the pacing is so slow, the two hours feel like a lot more.

Despite this, the characters, Richard and Rachel, feel like real human beings and for this reason you feel for them and you end up hoping their dream will come true. They are unlikeable characters and yet they are likeable. The credits for this entirely go to the actors as Giamatti and Hahn share incredible chemistry, which makes them very believable in the role of the struggling couple, and they both delivers the characters' fears, doubts and sorrows very well. Kayli Carter does a nice job too as Sadie. John Carroll Lynch also provides good support; Molly Shannon, on the other hand, is so cringy in the role of Sadie's mother and the character changes all of a sudden.


Another issue I had with Private Life is the humour. While occasionally it was kind of funny, overall the comedy was pretty bland. Ultimately, the film provides a realistic and natural insight into the life of fertility junks, and the central performances are great, but it just feels like a tedious miss.

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