The film is most successful in its open, honest, often hilarious portrayal of family life and parenthood. Lilith and Athena fight, make fun of the nastier side effects of one another’s pregnancies, and show genuine love for one another. They are one of the most believable and likeable screen couples lesbian cinema has seen in a very long time.
Also very effective is the “faux documentary” style that allows the actors to improvise and appear completely comfortable in their scenes. There’s nothing “stage-y” about any of the action (other than the camera’s tendency to be in the right place at the right time, of course). The director, Alison Reid, is a constant presence, asking all the big questions (especially about the risk of complications due to the new procedure).
The fact that both leads were actually pregnant during filming certainly doesn’t hurt, either, and in fact yields a tremendous deal of humor along with the authenticity — the credit sequence, in particular, is worth every penny.
The acting is superb across the board. Vint and Fahlenbock come off in every way as the cool, down-to-earth couple next door. Their chemistry is superb and their “couple-y” instincts are dead-on. Further, both women show seriously impressive range, hitting the high and low notes near-perfectly.
In one memorable sequence, a very funny ultrasound technician hits on Athena while an annoyed Lilith lies on the table, fretting about possible complications. That fretting turns to a full-blown flight of emotion and panic when the doctor can’t completely assure her of anything, though things “look good”.
Dunsmore also shines as Wanda, Athena’s incredibly conservative mother. While she first appears to be a caricature, Dunsmore imbues a great deal of empathy and strength in her, and later events prove that she’s not nearly as one-dimensional as she first appears.
So forget Bette and Tina’s baby mama drama on The L Word, never mind Melanie and Lindsey’s pregnancy woes on Queer As Folk, and certainly disregard the long-standing tradition of lukewarm lesbian pregnancy storylines in queer film and mainstream TV. The Baby Formula beats them all with its sheer authenticity, humor and creativity.
The Baby Formula is available now on DVD.