A film that tackles key social issues that often are not addressed, The Surrogate is a frustrating exercise in failed writing that takes the character that you are expected to emphasize with and demonizes her.
When Josh (Chris Perfetti) and Aaron (Sullivan Jones) want to have a baby, they turn to their friend Jess (Jasmine Batchelor) to serve as their surrogate. Plans go awry, however, when they discover that the unborn child has Down Syndrome and are thrown into a moral hurricane. Growing up with an aunt with Down Syndrome, a genetic condition where the child is born with an extra chromosome, I was thrilled to see the subject broached here, especially with a same sex couple. The Surrogate misses the mark, however, as it takes a necessary topic and absolutely loses it amongst the mess that is Jess’ character development. Her entire arc is one of clear love and care for her friends, while weighing an unthinkable decision, though she becomes overbearing, pushy, unreasonably angry, and ultimately unlikeable. Without spoiling the third act, Jess becomes surprisingly confrontational with her friends in a way that is utterly unbelievable. But then again, who am I to judge anybody in this situation.
This is a tough film through and through. The feelings of all characters are understandable and certainly unknown by this critic. But whereas the film begins my exploring the fears and concerns of a family hit with information they never expected and don’t know what to do with, The Surrogate ultimately draws lines between the characters based on moral differences without any understanding. It really is all just very messy, and as one of my fellow critics (@TheBasicCinephile) said, maybe that is the points… it’s a messy, complicated situation and there is no right answer. A mess like this review, perhaps, as my thoughts are all over the place with The Surrogate.
Photo from Mama’s Geeky