We first meet Samantha Abbott (Cobie Smulders) as she drives to her job as a science teacher at an inner-city high school in Chicago. She seems a little distracted as she lets her boyfriend off at the L train station. Once she is in her classroom, we see the problem. She thinks that she might be pregnant, shown by her searching pregnancy self-diagnosis sites on the Internet.
She is well-liked and respected by her students as they respond to her teaching style. The school that she is teaching at is closing at the end of the school year due to budget cuts. It’s not a good time to be single and pregnant. On her way home she buys a pregnancy test that confirms her worst fears; she is pregnant.
Once home, she tells her boyfriend, John (Anders Holm) who instantly and lovingly gives her support. He assures her that they will figure it out. The next day, over pancakes, he awkwardly proposes to her, and she says yes. Their plan is to have the baby, with Samantha taking year or two off as John supports the two of them. They decide to get married at the courthouse and then break the news to Samantha’s mother Carolyn (Elizabeth McGovern), who is devastated that her daughter is, in her eyes, destroying her life.
After Samantha throws up in front of her students, the school learns that she is pregnant and married. Samantha then learns that Jasmine (Gail Bean) a 3.8-grade-point average student, might be pregnant. Samantha confronts Jasmine, and she confirms that she is indeed pregnant. Samantha pleads with Jasmine for her to keep thinking and applying for college, that she can’t waste this opportunity that all her hard work has given her. The two women will soon be going on a journey to motherhood that will test their will. They will have to count on their friendship to help them survive this experience.
Director Kris Swanberg, who co-wrote the script with Megan Mercer, lets the relationship between the two women slowly evolve from teacher/student to mother-figure/daughter to two pregnant women trying to figure out how they are going to live their lives. It would have been easy to turn this film into another “cable movie of the week,” but Swanberg keeps the relationship moving with some real-world problems that both women are dealing with. Samantha is angry that this pregnancy is derailing her plans for her life. She continues to try to land her dream job with a museum, even though she has already conceded to her husband with the plan to stay at home with the baby. Jasmine, whose boyfriend becomes increasingly absent as the pregnancy goes along, is determined to be the parent to her baby that her mother never was to her. It seems that her mother got addicted and abandoned her, leaving Jasmine and her sister to be brought up by her grandmother.
Gail Bean is outstanding as the smart and determined Jasmine, giving her an air of inner strength, making her a character that demands respect for the choices that she makes. She interacts with Smulders incredibly well on screen, making their friendship seem organic and almost necessary for each character.
Cobie Smulders gives one of the best performances of her career as the teacher who wants more out of life, not only herself but her student as well. It’s a role that seems to be a natural for Smulders, as she runs the gamut of emotion; from the shock of being pregnant, the anger of not being able to make the most of her profession and the joy of realizing that she is going to be a mother, playing each one so that we feel what she is going through. It’s a demanding role and Smulders is up to the task, showing great range.
This is a film that explores the choices and sacrifices that women make when dealing with pregnancy. It’s to the credit of the two leads that the film works as well as it does. While not a groundbreaking film, it’s an interesting experience showing two women trying to come to grips with the reality of their situations. My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
“Unexpected” is currently playing in Atlanta at AMC Southlake 24 TheatresFollow @Lastonetoleave