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The film is preaching to the choir; no one who disagrees with its central tenet will be watching
The newest morality tale from American production company Pure Flix ( God’s Not Dead, The Case for Christ, A Question of Faith , etc.) tells the story of Abby Johnson (Ashley Bratcher), a clinic director for Planned Parenthood who resigned in 2009 and subsequently became a staunch anti-abortion activist.
Well, that did happen. But the script by co-director Cary Solomon, based on Johnson’s memoirs, turns what could have been a fascinating philosophical turnaround into a simplistic piece of U.S. religious/political agitprop. Abby is portrayed as relentlessly sunny and a devout Christian, while Cheryl (Robia Scott), her boss at the clinic, is a snarling villain who wants to abort every pregnancy she sees.
When Abby asks why the clinic is pushing to double the number of abortions it provides – which also happens to be a falsehood about the way the non-profit, reproductive health care provider operates – Cheryl explains that it’s like the fries and soft drinks that fast-food restaurants use to turn a profit. “Abortion is our fries and sodas,” she hisses. “Abortion is what pays for our salaries.”
In any case, Abby’s change of heart – her road to Damascus moment, if you will – doesn’t ring true from a narrative point of view. Despite working at the clinic for years, and even observing the removed “products of conception” with detached, scientific fascination, she freaks out while watching an ultrasound during an abortion. If that’s how it went down – and the court case that followed, dealt with quickly and tidily in the film, suggests otherwise – then make me believe it.
But none of this matters, because the film is preaching to the choir; no one who disagrees with its central tenet will be watching. And even if presented to a mixed audience, Unplanned is neither smart enough to rally anyone to its cause, nor dumb enough to alienate those who believe its message. As propaganda, therefore, it’s basically useless.
And as cinema, it’s poorly made. But you have a freedom of choice as to whether or not to see it.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019