Unplanned: A contentious movie to make you think

The following is a review of a film on an issue that many of you will disagree The main ethos of Culture Journal Ireland is to go places where many might not and to challenge thinking. It is on that basis that it was decided to view and review this film. Whether or not you choose to even read this review or choose to agree is entirely up to the reader. Indeed whether or not you choose to go to see the film as a result of this review is also entirely up to you. The following however is an attempt to review the content placed before the assembled audience just like any other film.

Unplanned is a semi-autobiographical movie about Abby Johnson, the former director of Planned Parenthood in the United States and her subsequent court battle following her decision to leave. From the outset, the narrative is displayed as something similar to a cheesy Christmas movie shown on Channel 5 in the UK. Everything is going great as Abby starts, and is enjoying her new job, living her suburban life with her new husband. We do see Abby’s life beforehand with a badly timed, ill-advised marriage and a couple of matter-of-fact abortions, none of which you see on screen. It is only once you see (a rather mature) Abby as a student that you get to the heart of the story. At first nothing is any different, she continues to work in the clinic on a daily basis, she gets married (to someone who doesn’t necessarily hold the same views as she does) then one day she is asked to assist in a procedure. This is the turning point for the main character as what she (and the audience) witness is very graphic and from here on in you see her face an internal struggle to at first change the ethos of the clinic to that of one that provides advice rather than procedures to women, leading on until the inevitable conclusion. In this sense the film is like any other fact based drama in that you know the conclusion.

It takes its time in getting there, with flashbacks used to show Abby then and Abby as she begins to have her change of heart. Is this film controversial? Well, in all honesty, not from the point of view of this particular reviewer. It has faced criticism and been denied funding in the United States. In fact many have tried to get the film banned altogether, (which was part of the motivation for Culture Journal Ireland wanting to view it) However, if you know what the film is about beforehand then you pretty much know what you’re going to get. Speaking as honestly as possible, if you truly and firmly hold genuine views that support either side of the debate, there should be nothing in this film that you find offensive or controversial. Whether or not it is a film which does it’s cause any good? That’s perhaps for others to decide. What this particular reviewer saw was a film based on a book told from the point of view of the person that wrote that book. It did what it sets out to do