Life & Culture

Film review: The Surrogate

A thought-provoking film about an ethical dilemma


This crowd-funded debut feature from New York based Jewish writer-director Jeremy Hersh tackles some rather pertinent themes surrounding surrogacy, abortion and disability. In it, Hersh tells the story of Jess (Jasmine Batchelor) a single black woman who agrees to act as surrogate for her best friend Josh and his partner Aaron (played by Chris Perfetti and Sullivan Jones)

Unlike most surrogates, Jess isn’t entering into the agreement for monetary gain but rather to help complete the family of two people she cares deeply for.

Things however don’t quite go to plan when an early screening at 12 weeks reveals that the baby has Down’s Syndrome.

Determined to carry the baby to term, Jess immerses herself in the world of children with Down’s Syndrome and their families in the hope of convincing the would-be parents to keep the baby.

For their part, Josh and Aaron are less enthusiastic about the whole thing and feel suddenly trapped in a pregnancy they no longer support.

Stories about surrogacy seldom tackle the possibility of a health issue for the baby along the way, opting for the usual hackneyed narratives about money and emotional attachments.

Here Hersh does a great job in presenting arguments and counterarguments in a series of neatly constructed little chapters.

The Surrogate often feels like it could have been adapted from a socially-minded off Broadway play with its rather rigid exchanges.

This isn’t so much a criticism, but an observation worth making, especially considering the subject matter.

Although a little contrived in parts, there’s no denying that this is indeed a film about a fascinating subject. Hersh has given us an engaging and handsomely acted story.

For me, however, it is undeniably Jasmine Batchelor who elevates this small indie production from adequate, to genuinely thought-provoking.

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