Is this a case of anxious ‘Baby Brain’ or a sick Mind Game?
‘False Positive takes an occasionally uncomfortable close look at pregnancy. It is one of the few life experiences that manages to be simultaneously wonderful and terrifying. Providing a safe home to grow new life places an incredible amount of pressure on not just the body but on the mind. The level of responsibility to eat right, drink right and basically do everything right to ensure the baby is delivered healthy can lead to insane levels of stress for expectant mothers. This is made even more difficult and heartbreaking when a couple are unable to conceive in the first place. It is under these circumstances we meet our couple Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and Adrian (Justin Theroux).
‘False Positive’ is a dark mystery/thriller from director John Lee. It’s written by and stars Ilana Glaser as ‘Lucy’, a young woman able to conceive naturally within her relationship with her husband Adrian. They seek help from fertility expert Dr Hindle, played by Pierce Brosnan. He has mastered fertility treatments and developed an advanced sure-fire technique to guarantee a pregnancy in each of his patients. Before long, Lucy and Adrian are pregnant, happily expecting the arrival of their first child. Lucy soon begins to feel something is not right and during her subsequent visits to the doctor begins to suspect something more sinister is going on.
The film comes from A24 studios who are well known and respected for their innovative and occasionally weird/outlandish movies where they push the envelope of what you might find in more traditional movies. Needless to say, I was extremely optimistic about what this story had to offer. It presented some interesting ideas and really looked at the vulnerability and intrusiveness women face while trying to fulfil what some consider to be a natural, ‘simple’ process.
Using pregnancy as a developing plot point works well as the creation and growth of new brings an element of the unknown. We are never quite sure what’s going to happen when the baby arrives. The direction by John Lee is competent but not spectacular, and the pacing is fine. There are some decent shots and one or two interesting visuals but overall, the film definitely had the feel of a ‘B’ movie. It laid the foundation for different story threads and constantly hinted at more going on but never quite followed through, in that way reminding me of the final season of Game of Thrones!
Actress and lead Ilana Grazer is best known as a comedian and the creator/co-star of the successful comedy series ‘Broad City‘. She was competent in this dramatic role, but I never felt fully convinced. I was still expecting her to do something silly which obviously never happened. Jason Theroux provided decent support but the responsibility for bringing some star power to the film fell to Pierce Brosnan. He manages to bring a certain gloss/shine to proceedings, managing to be charming and creepy all at the same time.
Like thrillers? check out a better relationship thriller ‘Fresh’ if you can stomach it! here
At times, the film makes inroads towards almost becoming a horror/thriller. There are images and visuals used which would be more at home within the horror genre. Lucy has terrifying nightmares she can’t explain, hears mysterious knocking sounds at night in her home and does things she apparently later has no memory of doing. She is never quite sure whether she is losing her mind or as everyone seems to imply, just dealing with an extreme case of ‘baby brain’. There are hints of mysticism and equally strange ‘off key’ characters whose presence constantly hint to something more sinister going on below the surface
Unfortunately, this is not the case. The film hints at these interesting threads then just resorts to tried and tested thriller resolutions. These plots have been seen and done much better in other movies and it was quite disappointing to see this end up in such a formulaic way. While its watchable, it could have been something special but instead is decidedly average
‘False Positive’ is available now on Sky Cinema Premiere in the UK and HULU in the US