Directed by Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin. Starring Rachel Hendrix, Jason Burkey, John Schneider, Jennifer Price, Jasmine Guy, Shari Rigby. (2012, PG-13, 105 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 13, 2012
Another pair of filmmaking brothers aims for the big time with this faith-based national release that soft-pedals the Christianity while playing to the anti-abortion faithful. Inspired by the story of pro-life activist Gianna Jessen, October Baby takes as its subject matter the untold lives of the survivors of failed late-term abortions. The film would have us believe that there are lots of them scattered among us, though the existing scientific evidence is in conflict with that notion. Nevertheless, we’re told these survivors all suffer from feelings of emptiness and incompleteness, not to mention possible physical complications.
Newcomer Rachel Hendrix is a real find in the lead role of Hannah, a 19-year-old whose collapse and ongoing medical issues bring to light the truth of her adoption and her premature birth at 24 weeks of gestation as the result of a failed abortion. Were it not for Hendrix’s presence and the competent turns of old pros like John Schneider as Hannah’s father and Jasmine Guy as a regretful former nurse at an abortion clinic, October Baby wouldn’t have much to stand on. The filmmaking is lugubrious and heavy-handed, and the dramatic arc stagnant and airless. October Baby has a polished visual look that will probably help it succeed in the marketplace, but its message of forgiveness seems a sham since no one with the sin of abortion on their hands is actually forgiven. October Baby earns points for the originality of its protagonist but it has no chance of preaching to anyone but the choir.