Starring Radha Mitchell, Michelle Monaghan, Jon Dore
One of the unexpected delights of SXSW, Expecting (Formerly called Gus) is written and directed by Jessie McCormack, who makes her directorial debut. McCormack, a short film actress, makes a huge leap to feature film in a really encouraging way. Both Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill) and Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible 3) are known for their babe type roles in which they play women with little to no personalities for development. About women, starring two female leads and written and directed by a woman, Expecting is a rare, but a much welcome anomaly that proves there are stories out there for these actresses starved for work. Even better, Mitchell and Monaghan have never been better; they finally get to show off their skills playing characters that are funny, dramatic, crazy and honest.
Andie (Monaghan) and Lizzie (Mitchell) have been friends forever. Andie is the girl who never outgrew her youth, partying and hooking up every night. Meanwhile, Lizzie is controlling and plans her life out, married and unable to have children. “I can’t take this, it’s too unfair,”Andie says after she gets pregnant after a one night stand and decides to have the child and give it to Lizzie. Peter (Dore), the husband, said he thought he would want children one day but doesn’t seem warm to the idea of getting children either way; meanwhile, he is taking care of his rehabilitated brother Casey (Weston), who adds a whole new element to the household of crazy going on between these guys.
Mitchell and Monaghan have never been better.
There are moments where I accept that some viewers might want a little more seriousness midway through the film and might want to get off this eccentric, but poignant ride. There are many Ally McBeal/David E. Kelly moments in this script that I loved and cherished. Andie is either just obnoxious or has a mild version of Tourette’s, but her vocal diarrhea makes everything more interesting. I really enjoy the chance to see two women like Mitchell and Monaghan, who have been sadly typecast in action films, get to really act and really deliver.
Expecting has a heavy crudeness to it; they refer to body parts with the most crude language and there is quite an unforgettable sex scene between Andie and Casey that raises the bar a bit. Expecting easily slides back and forth between comedy and drama much like the way life does, it’s just that the volume is turned up on both sides. Mimi Kennedy (Midnight in Paris) also adds a level of insanity to the characters as the therapist, and it reminded me of Tracey Ullman’s Emmy winning role in Ally McBeal. Both males and females should get quite a laugh out of this charmer.
Refreshingly original and well acted, a terrific directorial debut.