Film Reviews

INCONCEIVABLE

By • Jul 6th, 2017 •

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A competent thriller about a subject making headlines.

According to a 2014 Forbes article, on average, nationally, a “fresh” in-vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle costs $12,000 with medications running up to $5,000. Utilizing IVF and the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) step of the process adds another $3,000 to $6,000. Altogether, it costs about $20,000 for each attempt to have a biological child through IVF.

After several failed IVF cycles, financially it is nearly impossible to go any further. But for wealthy people, there are two more options.

The average cost of using a donor’s egg ranges from $37,000 to $65,000.

Gestational surrogacy – in which a surrogate mother carries another woman’s egg fertilized by the husband’s sperm – ranges from $100,000 to $150,000.

This newest phenomenon is known as “social surrogacy” and it involves healthy and fertile women, who are handpicking surrogates so they can avoid pregnancy and labour so they can maintain their figures and bounce back to work.

This is why so many celebrities are accused of wearing a prosthetic pregnancy bump. When an actress or runway supermodel shows up 2 weeks after giving birth with a flat stomach, the rumors go viral.

So how timely is Jonathan’s Baker’s INCONCEIVABLE? Kanye West and Kim Kardashian just announced that they are choosing surrogacy for their third child.* Thank goodness they decided, since Kardashian’s every move is documented, a fake baby bump would be hard to conceal.

Actresses Lucy Liu, Nicole Kidman and Sarah Jessica Parker have spoken about being able to have children using a surrogate, but some Hollywood stars prefer to pretend and choose not to give birth for the sake of their careers.

Famous women over 40 who claim to give birth to their biological children mislead the average woman into believing they too can get pregnant at any age without using a donor egg.

Angela (Gina Gershon) and Brian (Nicholas Cage) are wealthy doctors with a magnificent house with acreage. After several miscarriages, they decide to use a donor egg and become parents of an adorable baby girl.

Angela longs to return to her profession but is staying home with her daughter. She would love another baby. When she meets Katie (Nicky Whelan), a single mother living in a motel and they become friends, Gina invites the young woman and her daughter to live in their guest house. Nicky become like a mother to their little girl. The girls are the same age and are “like sisters”.

Bring a younger, beautiful woman into your house to care for your child? Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger may have known bringing a younger woman into their household was not a wise idea, but look what happened anyway? For Maria, there was no safe choice.

Angela knows Brian loves her, but as Chris Rock once said, “A man is only as faithful as his options.”

Young children need young nannies and even if someone is wealthy like Jennifer and Ben Affleck, they always hire inexperienced young women for the low-paying job. Are only beautiful, young woman applying for nanny jobs?

With this happy arrangement in place, Angela decides to get pregnant again. When she suffers a miscarriage, the only option left is to use the 3rd egg from their former anonymous donor and get a surrogate.

Katie manipulates the situation and becomes the surrogate. Angela knows that having a watchful eye over the surrogate – one in your own guest house – means you can be sure your surrogate is not drinking, using drugs or doing anything harmful to the fetus. Now, Angela will have to have Katie around her and Brian for nine months.

While Brian is devoted to Angela, she’s in a depression over her miscarriage and becoming increasingly suspicious of Katie.

The twists and turns in INCONCEIVABLE are clever and while perhaps too farfetched for real life, make for a impressive thriller.

I was especially thankful that the director did not go the typical Hollywood route – Angela is a smart, highly educated doctor. She figures Katie out but what can she do? Katie is carrying their baby. And while the young woman is always a seductress, and women should beware of homeless, single women without jobs, Brian keeps us guessing. Will he visit the guest house after rounds?

Faye Dunaway! Dunaway plays Brian’s mother Donna, who quickly sizes up Katie. Why is she living in the guest house? Was Dunaway as difficult to deal with as legend states? Then, perhaps proving his worth with temperamental actors, the director cast a famously reckless actor. Surprisingly, Cage doesn’t slip into any of his standard ticks, word exaggerations or facial mannerisms. Cage might actually move into dramatic, normal family roles after INCONCEIVABLE.

The director is adamant he chose INCONCEIVABLE to showcase a hidden, but increasingly popular, social contract from a woman’s point of view. Angela and Katie have solid reasons for their choices (though prior acts by Katie leads us not to support her).

I’ve known several women who have become pregnant over 50. It is impolite – actually verboten – to ask them if they used donor eggs. The INCONCEIVABLE couple have no shame in this regard and that is laudable.

*You don’t want to know this. Gestational surrogacy or social surrogacy has a major downside. The feelings a birth mother or surrogate mother has for herself and her unborn child will affect her child. Studies have hypothesized that as a surrogate mother she knows that she is only the carrier for the fetus thus she may have lower quality bonding with the fetus as compared to the biological mother. Also there will be low quality bonding between the biological mother and the newborn as she does not experience the processes of childbearing, childbirth and breastfeeding which play important roles in fostering mother- child bonding due to the role of oxytocin.

Babies are also able to sense a disconnection or lack of acceptance from their mother while in the womb—leading to attachment issues and developmental trauma down the road. All adopted children recognize either consciously or subconsciously that they have been separated from their biological mother. This itself creates trauma. Without the biological connection to their mother, even newborns can feel that something is wrong.

Partly taken from: Surrogacy- Does It Affect Physiology of Bonding Between Surrogate Mother-Fetus and Biological Mother-New Born? https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273381961

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

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