As the curtain rises, Hannah hesitantly steps onto the stage for her theatrical debut in college. Yet before she can utter her first lines, Hannah—unscripted—collapses in front of the stunned audience.
After countless medical tests, all signs point to one underlying factor: Hannah’s difficult birth. This revelation is nothing compared to what she then learns from her parents: she was actually adopted … after a failed abortion attempt.
Bewildered, angered, and confused, Hannah turns for support to Jason, her oldest friend. Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, Hannah joins his group of friends on a Spring Break road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past … and find hope for her unknown future.
In the midst of her incredible journey, Hannah finds that life can be so much more than what you have planned.
Tell Us a Story
Brothers Jon and Andy Erwin have paid their dues and it shows in OCTOBER BABY, their first feature film. Aided by Theresa Preston and Cecil Stokes, they developed a story wrapped around an event, not a message. Rather than try to convince us that abortion is wrong [if they need to], they show us the after-effects of a botched abortion attempt. Rather than manipulating us to feel a certain way, they create dramatic moments to give us space to think about actions and consequences.
Jon and Theresa wrote the screenplay, which carries us on a journey of discovery with Hannah and her family – all of it. There's not a wasted character or emotion in the film, no gratuitous special effects or comedy or beauty shot. The story is by turns humorous, poignant, deeply moving, silly, deeply spiritual without being polarizing.
Jon and Andy's vast experience as cameramen for ESPN and their award-winning work creating music videos for contemporary Christian music artists is on display here. Shots are framed almost perfectly, and the cameras are used to maximum effect. It's a beautifully filmed movie that looks like it had a much bigger budget than it did.
So the story is great and the look is great. The other key piece is the acting. It lives up to the story and the look. John Schneider, who is visible in many faith-based films currently, delivers a strong performance as Hannah's father, and shows an unexpected vulnerability in his role that is disarming. Jasmine Guy, more familiar for her television performances, has a nice supporting role as a woman tortured by her decisions, which she delivers with a striking subtlety.
Rachel Hendrix as Hannah, the lead character, dives deeply into the role and portrays an ability to carry a lead role in an independent film. She plays Hannah with a grace and vulnerability that allow us to feel her emotions as though they were our own. Jason Burke, as Hannah's best friend, was sweetly and strongly supporting, the kind of guy you want by your side if you have to go on a journey like this. And Chris Sligh [of American Idol fame] gave us plenty of laughs and light moments to offset some of the film's heaviness.
In an unexpected bit of grace, the actress playing Hannah's birth mother is a woman who herself had an abortion. When director Jon Erwin [read our exclusive interview with him here] sent the script to actress Shari Rigby [read our exclusive interview with her here], he did so because she worked with him on a previous project. He had no idea the role he wanted her to play could have been written from her own life.
I first encountered the Erwin brothers through their documentary THE CROSS AND THE TOWERS. At that time, Jon said in an interview [read it here] that they knew they had to pay their dues before getting into feature films, and earn that right. They've honed their craft and refined their methods and have a really bright future ahead of them.
Don't go see OCTOBER BABY because you agree with the message or because you want to support the Christian film industry. Go see it because it's a good movie that will make you think about forgiveness and touch your heart.
OCTOBER BABY is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material. That guideline should be heeded by savvy parents.
Courtesy of the producers and a national publicist, Angela previewed OCTOBER BABY.