SXSW 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! The Surrogate centers on Jess (Jasmine Batchelor) as she becomes a surrogate for her best friends. During the early stages of pregnancy, they find out the child will be born with down syndrome. Jess and her friends struggle with deciding whether to keep the child or abort it.
After being in an off-and-on relationship, Jess decides to become a surrogate for her friends Josh and Aaron. Once Jess becomes pregnant, the couple feels like their dreams of starting a family are on the verge of coming true. During what I would assume is the first trimester of Jess’s pregnancy, they are hit with the news that the fetus has one extra chromosome determining that it will be born with down syndrome. The three take the news pretty hard, but Jess becomes proactive and signs them up to meet with parents that have raised children with down syndrome as well as meet their children.
“…determining that it will be born with down syndrome…[they] ask Jess to have an abortion.”
Jess becomes attached to a certain little boy and his mother as she sees the pros in raising a child with a disability. Josh and Aaron, on the other hand, see the cons of it. The couple decides that they do not think that they can financially raise the child and ask Jess to have an abortion. This is where things become really conflicted, and the film also starts to have some issues.
When Josh and Aaron reveal to Jess that they want to have an abortion, Jess quickly says, “okay,” literally, without hesitation. The issue for me here is that who has the right to tell a woman to get an abortion with the child that she is holding and who in their right mind would just say “okay” without thought? Luckily, this issue gets a chance at being fixed because it drives the rest of the film.
After spending time with the mother, Bridget, and her son, she decides that she wants to not go through with the abortion and wants to raise the child herself with financial help from her best friend, couple, and her parents. This decision does not sit well with the couple nor with Jess’s mother. Jess realizes quickly that she is in this situation alone and furious that nobody will support her decision. Throughout the third act, Jess goes back and forth with herself in deciding if she will actually go through with the pregnancy, considering that she will not receive any help from anyone.
"…the film is pretty heavy, which is putting it lightly."