Based on the book by Jenni Hendriks, Unpregnant directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg, is a coming-of-age film about 17-year-old Missouri teen Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) who learns she is pregnant and has to travel to New Mexico in order to secretly have an abortion.
Despite the heavy topic at hand, the film seems to have a surplus of minor plots distracting from its main focus. First off, instead of taking one of her current friends along for the ride across several states, Veronica takes her childhood best friend Bailey (Barbie Ferreira), as she feels she is the only one she can turn to in this situation. Given that the two are no longer close friends, they have to spend a fair amount of the film addressing the nature of their relationship and how things have changed over the years.
Aside from the topic of friendship, Bailey’s personal story also becomes a major part of the film. For instance, the prospect of her being a lesbian comes up when she and Veronica attend a state fair and she meets a girl who seems to be interested in her. Plus, her estranged father conveniently lives in New Mexico not far from the clinic they are travelling to.
Prior to watching the film, I did not expect it to include some of the unrealistic obstacles the girls faced as they were traveling. I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say their method of transportation gets taken and they have to get creative to find a way to keep on going. This element of the film reminded me of the classic Mary-Kate and Ashley movie Getting There.
Oftentimes it seemed as though the writers were trying to fill space with silly mishaps instead of focusing on the plot at hand as well as the dialogue. I felt that this only distracted viewers from what the film was truly about and seemed unnecessary. A good script does not need this many twists to be complete; it should be able to stand on its own. What was most unfortunate about the way the story was told is that the majority of the events did not contribute to the overall message of the film.
I did appreciate the ending of the film, I just wished they had touched on some of the more important notes sooner instead of so late in the game. I also felt like Veronica’s ultimate confession to her friends and mother should have held more weight instead of nearly being skipped over. With all of this being said, the film can certainly be enjoyed by the right audience, just be prepared for some unforeseen hijinks.
Unpregnant is available to stream on HBO Max.
By Blair Krassen @blairlyawake