October Baby brings out movie reviewer's bias

After he saw the movie October Baby, Mark Hall of the band Casting Crowns commented, “I am now an October Baby activist.” The film seems to have that effect on people: A friend of mine saw it this Sunday and called excitedly just to say, “You have to see October Baby. I’m telling everyone I know to go see it!”

Her enthusiasm and Ed’s review piqued my interest  — but it was actually a New York Times review of the film that convinced me I really do have to see this film while it’s still in theaters. It’s evident the movie strikes a nerve. Why else would Jeannette Catsoulis react with undisguised animosity to what she claims is just a “gauzy,” “soapy” melodrama? No need to grow angry about an “emo” kid film. That’s the sort of film that is usually easy to ignore and to which it’s typically impossible to have an impassioned reaction of any kind whether positive or negative.

Yet, Catsoulis can’t restrain her antipathy, claiming the movie has “an essential ugliness at its core” and “communicates in the language of guilt and fear.” It’s “clearly intended to terrify young women,” she writes. Then, she reveals her true objection to the film is political: “It fits right in with proposed state laws that increasingly turn the screws on a woman’s dominion over her reproductive system.”

Yes, she’s talking about laws that, among other things, would require women to have an ultrasound before they would be allowed to have an abortion. You remember the left’s outrageous outrage about a law like that in Virginia, don’t you?

What’s most notable about her mention of those laws, though, is not that she thinks the “turn the screws on a woman’s dominion over her reproductive system.” (That is notable, though. How does access to additional information impede a woman’s freedom?) What’s most notable is that she mentions them in a movie review. As Michael Medved puts it, “Film reviewers enjoy a natural, inalienable right to slam movies, but it’s not fair to review a film’s ideas rather than its artistic quality.” Clearly, though, she can’t help herself: She has to address the ideas directly. Could it be because October Baby really doesn’t preach and viewers might unconsciously be caught up in its themes? Could it be that October Baby follows the best artistic traditions and simply tells a story?

That’s the hope. As I always say, we don’t need more conservative art. We need more conservatives to make art. It sounds like the directors of October Baby might have done just that.

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Jazz Shaw 10:01 PM on June 07, 2023