NEW TO HBO MAX! With an air of the prime Judd Apatow comedies permeating heavily throughout, Single Mother by Choice is a winsome window of modern life for fiercely independent women determined to live life on their terms. Using footage of her pregnancy, writer/lead Selina Ringel bobbed and weaved through some rather unforeseen circumstances to craft a light, personal, emotionally resonant slice-of-life comedy.
Ringel plays Eva, a passionate Latinx individualist who runs a talent agency and lives in an apartment with her best friend, Skye (Brittany Hall). Eva swore to herself that if she was not married by her 30s, that she would still pursue raising a child and proceeds to become artificially inseminated. Then, just as she is navigating the countless empty platitudes of strangers who condescendingly call her brave or make assumptions about her life choices, Eva is hit with the unexpected while expecting: a little thing called COVID-19.
Initially dismissed as “something that is only in China,” it soon becomes evident that the pandemic is throwing her world into turmoil. And for someone as organized and structured as Eva, the uncertainly during the initial stages of the pandemic are more than a little overwhelming. While her business is losing gigs (and staff), Eva also has to worry about the then-unknown effects it has on pregnancies.
“…Eva is hit with the unexpected while expecting: a little thing called COVID-19.”
While the lead of Single Mother by Choice, Eva is a character that may initially strike viewers as abrasive. She always needs to appear to be the smartest person in the room. She always has no time for small talk. But those traits take a hit over her arc, as Eva slowly realizes that life (like childbirth) is not something that can fit in the confines of a Google Calendar.
Directed by Ringel’s real-life husband, Dan Levy Dagerman, the drama has an intimate quality, and a look that far exceeds its tiny budget. The fact that the film began production prior to the pandemic and shifted its direction to bring it into the fold seems like an accomplishment in and of itself. It hits the beats at just the right times, suggesting a modern update on the John Hughes classic, She’s Having a Baby.
Ringel’s portrayal of Eva allows an honesty to seep through the film, concluding with the character confronting her limitations. It’s to Ringel’s credit that these new complications do not enervate Eva, and we are merely witnessing her maturation as a person.
Single Mother by Choice bounces along with a breezy charm and an engaging supporting cast, including Hall as mentioned earlier and Vanessa Angel as Eva’s mother. While it breaks no new ground in terms of its story, it should be admired for the ability of all involved to clear the many hurdles the pandemic presented to produce an engaging feature-length dramatic comedy.
"…bounces along with a breezy charm and an engaging supporting cast..."