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Laramie Movie Scope: Private Life

A movie about life being messy and unpredictable

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 12, 2019 – The messiness of life and how plans often go awry is on full display in this dramatic comedy about a couple trying to have a baby, or adopt a child, or both. About halfway through this movie I said that either they are not going to have a child, or they are going to have a bunch of them, and that prediction turns out to be true, sort of.

Paul Giamatti (Straight Outta Compton) stars as Richard Grimes, who along with his wife, Rachel Biegler (played by Kathryn Hahn of “Bad Moms”) have been trying every which way to conceive a baby or adopt a child. They've tried the usual way, they've tried artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. After those failed, their doctor suggests finding an egg donor. At first, Rachel says definitely not, no way. Later, she reconsiders.

At the same time, they are trying to adopt a child. During an interview with an adoption agency, they recount the story of how they were once matched with a pregnant teenager from another part of the country, who was going to give her child up for adoption. But when they went to meet with her about adoption arrangements, she didn't show up. She disappeared from their lives and they never heard from her again.

Richard and Rachel's lives are intertwined with the lives of Richard's brother Charlie (John Carroll Lynch of “The Founder”) and wife, Cynthia (Molly Shannon of “Scary Movie 4”). Richard borrows money from his brother to pay for the increasingly expensive fertility treatments.

Charlie and Cynthia's daughter Sadie (Kayli Carter of “Rings”) comes to live with Richard and Rachel in New York City to pursue her career as a writer. She arrives at the same time that Richard and Rachel are looking for an egg donor. Since Sadie is Cynthia's daughter from a previous marriage, she is not biologically related and so is eligible to donate her eggs to Rachel.

Sadie agrees to be the egg donor for Richard and Rachel. This is an awkward situation since Sadie's father is, in essence, paying for an expensive procedure for his own daughter that is not without risk, and Sadie's mother thinks Richard and Rachel have gone off the deep end in their quest to conceive a child. This makes for a very awkward Thanksgiving dinner at Charlie and Cynthia's house.

Things get even more tense between the two families when Sadie has a serious medical complication from the egg donation procedure. Through it all, however, Sadie loves Richard, Rachel, Charlie and Cynthia, and they all love her. Sadie has a big heart and she is trying to help Richard and Rachel as best she can.

This is a good and compelling story right up to the point where it ends up in a very fashionable fog of ambiguity. There are those who like ambiguity in movies, that it makes them better. I don't buy into that idea. I don't like the overuse of this kind of fashionable ambiguity. I'd rather have a standard Hollywood ending sometimes, and this is one of those times.

This is a very well acted movie. It is a good, solid story with well-drawn characters. It isn't a great story, but I was on board, through the unevenness of it, up until the end. I sure did not like the ending. It is just a tease, like the film is playing games with me. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2019 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]