‘False Positive’: Film Review | Tribeca 2021 – The Hollywood Reporter

Ilana Glazer does an entire 180 from the Jewish screwball stoner humor of Broad Metropolis, taking an intense flip into psychological horror in False Optimistic. There’s not a hint of her slacker persona from the net series-turned-sitcom in her character Lucy, a younger girl whose emotions of failure at being unable to fall pregnant disappear when her husband’s connections permit them to skip the lengthy waitlist for New York’s prime fertility physician. However the glow of expectant motherhood turns more and more to paranoia, delusions and terror, finally going full freak-out in John Lee’s twisted homage to Rosemary’s Child for the post-IVF age.

The eye-grabbing opening plunges nearly into Argento territory as Pawel Pogorzelski, the brilliantly suggestive cinematographer on Ari Aster’s Hereditary and Midsommar, floods a glossy Manhattan workplace constructing in throbbing reds and blues that devour the evening. A curtain flutters ominously at an open window, suggesting that some grim prevalence has taken place, and Lucy is seen wandering trance-like by the streets, her face and clothes soaked in blood. Pulsing away beneath all that is Lucy Railton and Yair Elazar Glotman’s vintage-style horror rating, filled with tortured strings and unsettling vocal chants.

False Optimistic

The Backside Line

Gynecological gaslighting.

Launch date: Friday, June 25
Venue: Tribeca Movie Pageant (Highlight Narrative)
Solid: Ilana Glazer, Justin Theroux, Pierce Brosnan, Gretchen Mol, Sophia Bush, Zainab Jah, Josh Hamilton, Sabina Gadecki, Jaygee Macapugay, Danielle Slavick, Lucy Walters, Kelly AuCoin, Nils Lawton, Sullivan Jones
Director: John Lee
Screenwriters: John Lee, Ilana Glazer; unique story by John Lee, Alissa Nutting


Rated R,
1 hour 32 minutes

Director Lee, who co-wrote the screenplay with Glazer and was a frequent Broad Metropolis collaborator, doesn’t fairly maintain that daring stylistic stamp, even when the perturbing intimacy and insidious angles of the visuals go a great distance towards masking the uneven tone. For probably the most half, that is needling psychodrama with sly parts of feminist satire, which makes the lurch into lurid nightmare within the remaining stretch a bit disconcerting. But when False Optimistic’s descent into extra alarmingly bizarre territory threatens to ship it off the rails, the A24 manufacturing, going out as a Hulu Authentic, is intelligent, creepy and unique sufficient to maintain you glued.

An promoting govt working at a bro-heavy company the place her boss Greg (Josh Hamilton) cloaks his smug masculine privilege in patronizing assist, Lucy begins to imagine she actually can have all of it. Her pitch lands her the lead on a giant account, and her physician husband Adrian (Justin Theroux) will get them an appointment on the metropolis’s main girls’s reproductive middle, run by his former trainer John Hindle (Pierce Brosnan). One thing feels slightly off on the swanky, sterile clinic, however Lucy appears decided to not let that faze her at first, even when the professionally ingratiating head nurse Daybreak (Gretchen Mol) is immediately too acquainted, and John’s allure already suggests a God complicated as he proudly talks up the rewards of bestowing the dear present of motherhood on girls.

John has developed his personal insemination methodology combining IUI and IVF expertise, and one large syringe shot later, Lucy is throwing up on the workplace. The physician confirms that she’s pregnant, with the ultrasound revealing wholesome male twins in addition to a smaller singlet feminine. John factors out the chance of issues and advises “selective discount”; each he and Adrian favor protecting the boys over the less-developed lady. However Lucy ignores their objections and opts to maintain the lady, naming her Wendy after her just lately deceased mom.

There’s an extended historical past of being pregnant in horror, with its points of corporeal invasion, heightened anxiousness and, as Lucy’s simpering new youthful pal Corgan (Sophia Bush) places it, “mommy mind.” Lee and Glazer’s script frames the expertise inside the context of a patriarchal medical institution and a reproductive Svengali whose suavely reassuring method doesn’t conceal a sinister controlling facet in Brosnan’s chillingly efficient efficiency.

As her being pregnant progresses, Lucy’s mounting suspicions transcend the nice physician and the sugary-sweet icicle Nurse Daybreak, extending to her husband as Adrian’s conduct round her turns into shifty. Stricken by queasy emotions and more and more violent visions, she turns into satisfied that Hindle and her husband are in cahoots and have completed one thing to Wendy with out her data. She angers them each by selecting to interact a midwife for the supply, Grace Singleton (Zainab Jah), who rejects fashionable gynecology. Her extra religious, Afrocentric method advocates reclaiming the standard rituals of beginning that belong to girls however have been expropriated by male medical doctors.

Lucy finds the circle of individuals she will belief steadily shrinking as one after one other they reply to her confusion and attainable prenatal despair by questioning her stability. Is she paranoid or onto some type of conspiratorial plan to take management of her being pregnant? The movie teases out that query each within the crescendo of panicked isolation in Glazer’s compelling efficiency and the shadiness of everybody round her. Even the fellows within the workplace immediately appear extra overt about undermining her confidence. As soon as she learns that Adrian and John are planning on merging their medical practices, her fears actually take maintain.

The surprising developments of the eventual beginning and the deception concerned ship Lucy right into a tailspin and the film alongside together with her. It veers nearly into grotesque camp however with not sufficient abandon to actually promote the Grand Guignol remaining act. A Peter Pan motif additionally appears unsatisfyingly built-in, even when the music “Who Am I?” from Leonard Bernstein’s rating for the 1950 Broadway manufacturing offers a bewitchingly odd reflection of Lucy’s mind-set as she struggles with a actuality too disturbing to understand.

False Optimistic may not fairly stick the touchdown, but it surely’s a juicy style entry about how girls’s reproductive methods are handled like coveted actual property — expertly crafted when it comes to its visible command and well-acted by a robust ensemble. Brosnan is deliciously diabolical, albeit principally whereas sustaining a veneer of heat; Mol laces subversive humor into the tasty supporting function of Nurse Daybreak; Theroux retains you guessing whereas exhibiting glimpses of Adrian’s darkish facet; and Glazer ably expands her vary as the lady in peril, pushed to fierce extremes in her refusal to give up.

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