It’s been a long time since I did a film review, understandably so as with so much of public life, film-going has been all but shut down at least in the old-fashioned going to the cinema sort of way. Thankfully there are now streaming services available where we can in some way satisfy our craving for new movies.
For those in North America, Roe v. Wade likely needs no introduction and this movie takes a fascinating look at one of America’s most iconic court cases with a cast that lives up to the very contentious events which we see play out and which are still hotly debated to this day.
Roe v. Wade is a film that looks at the events leading up to the landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion, relatively free from government restrictions.
It has a fantastic cast featuring the likes of Jon Voight, Corbin Bernsen, Stacey Dash, Jamie Kennedy, Steve Guttenberg, Robert Davi, William Forsythe and many more. Writer/director Nick Loeb plays one of the main protagonists Dr. Bernard Nathanson who helped start the abortion movement and he’s a fascinating character who at first comes across as rather arrogant and unsympathetic but as the film progresses he begins to question himself and when he breaks down at the end it’s the most moving scene of the movie.
Roe v. Wade takes us on a journey that explores how the ‘right to choose’ movement essentially gained traction due to the lies and manipulation of the media by Nathanson and Larry Lader. In fact some of the most shocking scenes illustrate how smug and self-satisfied they were with themselves, not due to their progress through the judicial system but by the outright lies they told to gain popular support as they battled Dr. Mildred Jefferson (Stacey Dash) and the Catholic church. At times it very much reminded me of tech-films where businessmen and whizz kids can’t believe their luck that they have pulled the wool over the eyes of their customers or regulatory authorities.
There also seemed to be a feeling of not taking things seriously by some of the characters in the Dallas District attorneys office who assumed they had to be very obviously correct in their Right to Life policy and if they less laissez-faire then they might have put up a better fight.
In a film like this there has to be air-time to both sides and thats what happens here. To be fair, at different points in the film I couldn’t decide which point of view the film was in favour of and I was pleasantly surprised not to be able to put my finger on it. I hate films where we are meant to sympathise with characters just because we are told to do so.
There are discussions from both sides throughout with several key politicians out to help themselves but they have their own issues as members of their families work in Planned Parenthood which complicates their decision making process. Mention is also made that Dr. Bernard Nathanson is from a Jewish background as indeed is Nick Loeb who plays him.
Of course we all know what the findings of the court will be but their is a twist in the tale which for me is the most emotive part of the film. ‘Modern’ ultra-sonic equipment appears which clearly shows that the tiny little things in the womb of the mothers are very recognisable as humans and Dr. Bernard Nathanson is overcome with remorse for the tens of thousands of deaths he has caused, including one very close to home we see towards the start of the film.
I would never say Roe v. Wade is a fun-film; it’s serious, engaging and thought provoking. As someone who lives in the U.K. I was only familiar with the verdict of the court and Abortion is one of those subjects that America seems to get tangled up in whilst many of the rest of us give it next to zero thought as it’s just a given.
That being said however in someways I got to enjoy the ins and outs of this movie even more as I’ve never really given it any consideration at all. I have to say that my feelings took a pretty similar route as Dr. Bernard Nathanson and indeed Writer, Director and Actor Nick Loeb and I just found it all very thought-provoking.
On a lighter note, I really appreciated the look of Roe v. Wade. The events of the film took place in the year of my birth, 1973 and the makers have effortlessly captured the look of life in the 70’s.
Roe v. Wade is out on April 2nd on streaming services such as Amazon Prime and iTunes. If you think you know the story of this case, it’s worth watching for the new perspectives offered. If like myself you know next to nothing about what transpired then it may well be revelatory. Whatever side of the debate you come down on; there’s a lot to mull over and a lot of great performances to enjoy.