Release date: March 23, 2012
Starring: Rachel Hendrix, Jason Burkey
For those uninterested in the heavy doses of violence in “The Hunger Games,” “October Baby” provides a refreshing yet emotional alternative.
The beginning of the movie is surprisingly joyful. A young girl and boy race through the grass with the sun illuminating their gleeful faces. As they make their way to the lake, the gentle strumming of a guitar and the soft sound of a man’s singing voice complement the scene.
The happiness appears to disappear after a few minutes. When Hannah, played by Rachel Hendrix, takes the stage in a play, it’s clear that she’s suffering from more than just stage fright. Her eyes appear haunted while performing her first lines. The audience erupts in gasps as she collapses to the ground shortly after.
Her father, Jacob, played by a rather overprotective John Schneider, and her mother, Grace, (Jennifer Price) immediately rush her to the hospital. This point in the film reveals Hannah’s extensive medical history, signaling the first clue to her deteriorating health.
After rummaging through Hannah’s diary, Jacob and Grace take Hannah to the doctor where Hannah learns that she is sick because she was the survivor of an abortion. She melts down as she discovers that the people standing before her are her adoptive parents.
Struggling to grasp reality, the college freshman leaves in a cloud of hurt and disbelief. When she’s invited to go on a road trip over spring break by her lifelong friend Jason (Jason Burkey), she seizes the opportunity to find her biological parents. The college students’ silly antics along the way allow for some welcomed and charming comic relief.
Hendrix is terrific as Hannah. While her acting seems reminiscent of Kristen Stewart’s Bella at times, she fits her role seamlessly. Her emotions appear to be genuine, and it’s sometimes difficult to remember that she’s acting.
Burkey is also promising as the male lead, but his actions in the beginning of the film lead the audience to develop an understandable distaste of him. His strong dependency on his cold-hearted girlfriend, Alanna, played by Colleen Trusler, is a nuisance.
The flick is somber overall, but is supported by a very talented cast. Abortion debates are typically fueled with emotional backlashes and strong arguments, but “October Baby” treads over the subject perfectly. The feelings contained in the film are raw and real, something that most of today’s movies appear to lack.
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