‘Unpregnant’ Review: Finding Friendship in Abortion
In the teen comedy two teens reconcile their friendship during a road trip for an abortion. (Warning: Spoilers ahead).
Veronica (Hayley Lu Richardson) is the daughter of conservative parents and the popular valedictorian of her school. And is having a “scare”.
Veronica takes a pregnancy test at her school and fumbles the daunting test on the bathroom floor while still sitting on the toilet. Cue Bailey (Barbie Ferreira).
Bailey is Veronica’s opposite. Her appearance is no where near as streamlined as Veronica’s, she doesn’t care for school and eats lunch alone. She is also Veronica’s former best friend.
Bailey picks up the test and, after some teasing, her and Veronica see the positive result together.
Veronica is determined to obtain an abortion without tarnishing her “perfect girl” persona. This means she cannot tell her friends, boyfriend, or parents.
Missouri state law, however, requires that minors receive parental consent to obtain an abortion.
The nearest clinic where Veronica can obtain her abortion without her parents consent is in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Veronica quickly realizes the only person she can ask to drive her is Bailey. Thus begins the 2,000 mile journey of two ex best friends.
Along the way the girls lose their mode of transportation (Bailey had “borrowed” a car without asking and police track the vehicle but lose the girls) and are kidnapped by a conservative couple that seemingly intend to hold the girls hostage until they convince Veronica to keep the fetus (the girls escape from this as well). They are tracked all the way to the clinic by Veronica’s boyfriend, Kevin (Alex MacNicoll) who wants to convince Veronica to marry and raise a child with him.
These seemingly outrageous situations aren’t so outrageous when considering what some women must go through to safely obtain an abortion.
Veronica and Bailey are kidnapped after trusting the conservative couple to get them to Albuquerque, reflecting the dangerous bargains women must take when they have to rely on strangers to get them to an abortion clinic.
Kevin stalking Veronica and trying to convince her to not have an abortion reflects men’s insistence that they know what is best for women.
While these concepts do have the potential to be heavy and uncomfortable, director Rachel Lee Goldenberg veils the film in comedy. The conservative couple and Kevin are written to be more outrageous than threatening. Most importantly, ‘Unpregnant’ keeps it’s comedy factor going through Veronica’s and Bailey’s antics. While the film doesn’t reach ‘Booksmart’ (another comedy that revolves around two teenage female bestfriends getting in and out of trouble) levels of funny and can feel a bit formulaic, it’s a formula that works.
Throughout the film we see Bailey’s dedication to Veronica, Veronica having to earn Bailey’s trust and, ultimately, how a secret abortion reunited two best friends.
The film pulls on heartstrings just right, even if it’s a familiar pull.
‘Unpregnant’ is now available for streaming on HBO Max.