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Movie Train - FILM REVIEWS by Morgan Bell

Fresh critical film reviews by young Australian journalist Morgan Bell. A bight-sized opinionated analysis of popular movies and indie/art-house feature films. Explores plot, themes, characters, performances, soundtracks and film technique. Morgan Bell assesses movies in the context of what makes a successful cinema or DVD experience.

films that discuss Abortion . . . a movie list

July 22nd 2008 15:45
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Johnny's dance partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) becomes pregnant by waiter Robbie and risks losing her job as a professional dancer, and therefore her livelihood if she the baby. Penny is genuinely in love with Robbie and is hurt when he accuses her of sleeping around. Robbie refuses to acknoledge the baby is his and continues trying to seduce rich women from the lodge. Penny gets a loan to pay for an illegal backyard abortion which ends up being botched and leaving her in agonising pain. A real doctor is called in to the emergency situation to save Penny's life.

Citizen Ruth (1996)
A satire where the central character, Ruth (Laura Dern) is an irresponsible pregnant woman who sparks a political debate about the legality of abortion. Both pro-choice and pro-life lobbyists attempt to convince her to side with them by offering progressively larger and larger sums of money. Ruth is portrayed as a dumb, inebriated addict, capable of doing nearly anything to get money or drugs. Ruth already has four children which have been taken from her custody and when Ruth is arrested for drug use a judge encourages her to have an abortion to receive a less harsh sentence. Ruth ends up forgotten and ignored due to the escalating power struggles of both sides of the cause and has a miscarriage.

High Fidelity (2000)
Rob (John Cusack) chastises his girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle) for having an abortion without his knowledge. Rob cheated on Laura at the time she found out she was pregnant and she learned of the infidelity before she got to tell him. Laura terminates the pregnancy without consulting Rob because their relationship is falling apart. When Laura later confesses about her abortion to Rob he feels guilty and responds angrily. He admits to the audience that his mortified reaction was spineless and insincere and just a tactic in part of his selfish unwillingness to take responsibility for cheating on Laura

Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her (2000)
Rebecca (Holly Hunter) is a 39 year old bank manager who is having an affair with a married man. She discovers she is pregnant and explains she miscalculated her ovulation cycle at a time she didnt have access to her usual contraception. Rebecca's gynacologist warns it is probably the last opportunity she will get to have a baby at her age. Rebecca is adament she doesnt want to be pregnant and schedules and abortion. After she has made her decision she informs the man and he is completely disinterested. An old ranting homeless lady near Rebeccas work repeatedly calls her a "sad whore". Rebecca goes through the experience of the abortion alone and it compounds her feelings of loneliness.

Holly Hunter in Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her (2000)

Riding In Cars With Boys (2001)
Beverly (Drew Barrymore) is a 15 year old girl in the 1960s who naively has sex with an adorable no-hoper called Ray out of gratitude for him fighting in her honour. When Beverly discovers she is pregnant she confides in her best friend (who later gets pregnant herself) and then discusses with Ray. In a breif moment Beverly reveals she has heard of abortion but doesnt think it is an option because she has no money and you can only get them in Puerto Rico. Though Ray is willing to marry her, Beverly is reluctant to have a baby, even going so far as throwing herself down the stairs to try to force a miscarriage. A wedding between Beverly and Ray is hastily planned and the young couple move into public housing and have a baby boy, much to Beverly's disappointment. Ray and Bev enter into criminal activity and drug use and Beverly is refused education opportunities. Bev considers having a baby so young ruined her life and questions whether she loves him.

Circle of Friends (1995)
Set in 1950s Ireland a Catholic college student, Nan (Saffron Burrows) has a secret sexual relationship with a rich English gentleman called Simon (Colin Firth) believing they are in love and he will marry her. When Nan becomes pregnant Simon, a protestant, tries to give her money for an abortion but she refuses, Simon insults Nan's religion and severs all ties with her. Nan, out of desperation, seduces one of her best friends boyfriends and claims the baby is his. Nan ends up miscarrying in a dramatic confrontation where she is accidentally injured and suffers massive blood loss. Nan leaves town having ruined her reputation.

Juno (2007)
Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) is a 16 year old high school girl who experiments sexually with her best friend and admirer Bleeker (Michael Cera) and soon discovers she is pregnant. Juno's first instinct is to visit an abortion clinic but she is quickly deterred by the nonchalant attitude of the receptionist and a sole pro-life protester (a girl from her school) who informs her that her baby has fingernails. Juno decides to go through with the pregnancy and give her baby up for adoption to a rich couple. Bleeker is happy to go along with whatever Juno decides and, apart from feeling a bit odd at school, Juno is happy with her decision to give her baby up to a woman of her choice.

Ellen Page taking a pregnancy test in Juno

If These Walls Could Talk (1996)
This film follows the stories of three women in different time periods, each deciding whether or not to have an abortion. The segments are set in 1952, 1974, and 1996, and each focus on the social attitudes toward abortion dominant at the time.

The first segment is the story of Claire (Demi Moore), a widowed nurse living in suburban Chicago, who becomes pregnant by her brother-in-law and decides to undergo abortion in order not to hurt her late husband's family. Because abortion is illegal it is difficult to organise and ends up being performed on her kitchen table, she dies shortly after due to hemorrhage.

The second segment is the story of Barbara (Sissy Spacek), a struggling older mother of four children, who has to decide whether she can cope with another addition to the family. Barbara had recently gone back to college after putting it on hold for her family. She considers abortion with the support of her teenage daughter but ends up choosing to keep the child.

The third segment deals is the story of Christine (Anne Heche), a college student who got pregnant by her married professor decides on an abortion when he breaks up with her and only offers her money. The abortion takes place during a violent protest, and an abortion protester walks in on the operation and shoots her doctor (Cher)

The Cider House Rules (1999)
This film is the story of Homer (Tobey McGuire), an orphan who receives medical training from an abortionist doctor. Homer, who is at first solidly pro-life, is thrown into circumstances that force him to reconsider this stance. Early in the film a young woman bleeds to death after being butchered by a botched backyard abortionist. Candy (Charlize Theron) comes to the orphanage for an abortion as her partner is due to go off to war. Homer later chooses to perform an abortion for a young woman who was the victim of incest.

the young girl who dies after an abortion in The Cider House Rules

Vera Drake (2004)
Set in 1950s London a devoted wife and mother, Vera (Imedla Staunton) works as a house cleaner, and secretly performs back-room abortions. The film focuses on issues related to social class, because at the time, although abortion was illegal, upper-class women could obtain abortions if they obtained costly psychiatrists' opinions that they were unfit for pregnancy. A hundred guineas, the price of a psychiatrist-approved abortion, would be £2400. Vera receives no money for her services, believing it to be an act of generosity towards the poor struggling working class. One case prominently presented is of an upper class woman who was raped by a man she was dating, she gets a referral for an abortion from a psychiatrist on the grounds that she might be desperate enough to harm herself.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007)
Foreign film which tells the story of two young female roommates trying to arrange a late term abortion in Romania during the communist regime of the late 1980s. The film takes place during the course of one day in a dangerous repressive environment where all contraception was banned and reproduction was compulsary.

Lake on Fire (2006)
Graphic 2.5 hour documentary about abortion in America with footage spanning 15 years. This film covers all of the pro-life advocates, the murders of doctors and bombings of clinics, footage of actual abortions, and even an interview with the real-life 'Roe' from Roe v. Wade.

I Had an Abortion (2005)
Sincere documentary, candidly interviewing 10 women who had abortions. The film presents the women chronilogically, from illegal abortions as early as the 1930s to an 18 year old Catholic girl today, and documents how changing societal pressures have affected women’s choices and experiences. This film shows the human face of the women that are often forgotten in the debate.

I Had An Abortion - 2005 documentary film

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19 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Cibbuano

July 22nd 2008 23:46
also "The Crime of Padre Amaro", starring Gael Garcia Bernal as a young priest that breaks his vow...

Comment by RubySoho

July 23rd 2008 00:45
Excellent research. I haven't seen Things You Can Tell...but I'm glad to know there are actually American films that do deal with this issue. Most films (even the good ones like Juno), have such an overwhelming pro-life message that I think it just compounds the difficulty women go through when faced with this decision.

Comment by Bryn

July 23rd 2008 01:54
Also Imprint by Takashi Miike ....
And Dumpling by Fruit Chan ...
heh heh heh ... yeah, I'm a twisted inidividual, I know.

Comment by Morgan Bell

July 23rd 2008 05:05
hi Cibbuano,
thanks for adding to the list!
my foreign language film knowledge isnt the best so i had to google that one . . . i see its about the Catholic Church in Mexico
Really Long Link

hi Ruby,
abortion really isnt discussed as an option much in film at all . . . it is difficult to think of many movies that have unplanned pregnancy as a plot point and show the woman seriously entertaining the idea . . . abortion is still very much one of the great taboos!
often the actual word isnt even spoken and the suggestion (if any) is dismissed immediately

hi Bryn,
ok i had to google your suggestions too
Dumplings (2004) sounds like the Hong Kong abortion clinic version of Sweeney Todd . . . "special" dumpling ingredients for rejuvenation? eww
Really Long Link
i cant find much on Imprint (2006) except that it was banned due to graphic and disturbing depictions of incest, prostitution, torture, and abortion . . . i dont suppose you reviewed it did you?

Comment by Lara M

July 23rd 2008 05:36
What about "Knocked Up"? Though it wasn't discussed or (like you said) directly mentioned, Heigl's character's mum suggested it...

Dumplings was/is disturbing! Don't watch on a full stomach

Comment by Morgan Bell

July 23rd 2008 06:29
hi Lara M,
thanks for the suggestion!
yeah i felt it was kind of glossed over in Knocked Up . . . Heigl never even considered it, as soon as she found out she was pregnant she was certain she would have the child . . . they didnt really say why, whether it was her religion or politics, or whether she had always wanted children, it was largely an unexplored topic

Comment by Bryn

July 23rd 2008 06:48
Imprint here

Comment by Morgan Bell

July 23rd 2008 06:54
why thankyou my dear Bryn . . . i will check it out!

Comment by Summer Minor

July 23rd 2008 17:47
When I hear about the "Save the babies" rhetoric it's that scene from Dirty Dancing that always comes to mind first. I know it's silly being just a movie, but that's what I was watching when I stopped naively thinking abortion was something that only happened to the fetus.

Comment by Morgan Bell

July 24th 2008 04:53
hi Summer,
thanks for stopping in!
yeah Dirty Dancing was a fairly light kind of movie that actually tackled some fairly major issues about class and tradition and sexuality and relationships . . . it is one of the few movies ever made that openly talks about the health risks of backyard abortions
some of these films are quite admirable in how they include the decision making process and consequences as equally devastating as the decision itself . . . unwanted pregnancy can cause women to act desperately!

Comment by Morgan Bell

July 24th 2008 16:08
i came across an Australian doco in some random googling . . .

Abortion, Corruption and Cops – the Bertram Wainer Story (2005)

Writer/Director: John Moore
A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with John Moore Productions.
Developed and produced with the assistance of Film Victoria.
Produced in association with SBS Independent.

in 1967 a young woman came to dr bertram wainer’s Melbourne surgery seeking emergency medical treatment after a backyard abortion. she was desperately ill yet too afraid to go to hospital. For wainer this was the start of a long, hard struggle to
overturn laws that made abortion a punishable offence. in the process he uncovered a web of corruption involving highly paid doctors, backyard abortionists, high-ranking police and politicians. it would lead to attempts against his life and the first major public enquiry into a state police force, as he fought to make abortions accessible, affordable and safe.

Finalist - Best achievement in Direction in
a Documentary and Best achievement in
Cinematography in a Non-feature film, afi awards.

Finalist - international film and Video Competition, mumbai international film festival.

Finalist - Best Documentary Social and Political issues,
atOm awards.

Comment by Kynaston

June 18th 2009 12:45
Revolutionary Road discusses abortion.

Comment by Anonymous

November 7th 2009 08:28
There's an abortion in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Comment by Anonymous

November 27th 2009 03:34
i had an abortion myself...and somehow...dont feel guilty...but watching this movies..maybe they give me the comfort im not the only one who did, do or does it...or will

Comment by Anonymous

April 7th 2010 15:31
Micheal Corleone's wife, Kay, in The Godfather Part II gets an abortion and is exiled from the family and not allowed to talk to her two children by Micheal.

Comment by Anonymous

April 29th 2010 13:16
I had an abortion very early in pregnancy. The father was irresponsible and also I was on medication which would have severely damaged the childs brain.

I hear the debate on tv about teenagers getting abortions without parents knowledge. I believe that there should be an adult above 21 years of age who supervises the teenager after the procedure. It is a dangerous procedure. Bleeding can occur and you are out of it afterwards. Supervision for several days is needed. Besides that, your hormones go out of whack.

I don't recommend abortion. However, if you are dealing with a similiar circumstance ... you may consider. There will be a psychological aftereffect as well, regret, and plenty of what ifs.

Comment by AnonymousX

May 14th 2010 16:31
BELLA is also another movie that relates to prolife. its a very touching movie

Comment by Anonymous

June 11th 2010 08:00
Horror movie Pin has abortion brought up a couple times and the main boy's sister had an abortion

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