Reviewed by: Tami Smith, Film Reviewer for Shockya
Director: Jeremy Hersh
Screenwriter: Jeremy Hersh
Cast: Jasmine Batchelor, Chris Perfetti, Sullivan Jones, Ebony Booth
Release Date: June 12, 2020
When we first meet Jess (Jasmine Batchelor) we get an impression of a twenty-something woman who does not want to commit to permanent relationships with men since she does not know where she will be eight months down the road. Jess is an upwardly mobile young woman who works for a non-profit organization in New York City, and defines her job as a “glorified social media manager”.
We later find out that she is pregnant and can not wait to share her joy with the biological father Josh (Chris Perfetti) and his husband Aaron (Sullivan Jones). This gay couple wants to become a family and Jess, a former classmate of Josh, agrees to help by being an egg donor and a carrier of the new born, but she is not doing it for the money.
A shock falls upon their good fortune when the trio is seated, dumbfounded, at a prenatal consultation, finding out that the embryo may have Down’s Syndrome, based on a 99% accurate test. This means that the future child will have the intellectual IQ of 50, will need specialized education and may never graduate from High school or work for a living.
Most pregnancies with fetuses afflicted by Down’s Syndrome are terminated but Jess is determined to show the shell-shocked parents that DS children are human beings too and deserve a chance at life. A major conflict arises when she is confronted by Josh and Aaron’s demands to abort the pregnancy.
Director Jeremy Hersh, in his directorial debut, takes viewers through an emotional plot that will touch the heartstrings of the most jaded and uncaring people on the planet. Scenes are long and many are improvised. Some are cut short for no particular reason and do not add to the general plot.
Acting in The Surrogate is top-notch with Jasmine Batchelor leading the cast as Jess, showing a selfless person willing to drop her life and career to become a single mother to a needy child, after the legal guardians withdraw from the picture. Chris Perfetti plays Josh as an unsure person being torn between his biological desire to become a parent and his husband’s demands to terminate the pregnancy. Sullivan Jones plays Aaron in a detached and rational manner telling viewers what they knew all along. While hoping to become a parent, he never signed up for life with a DS baby. An excellent supporting performance is given by Tonya Pinkins as Karen, Jess’s mother, who in one high-pitched scene explains what her financial/societal future would look like as a single black mother. Eboni Booth gives Samantha, Jess’s sister, a non-judgmental attitude that viewers will identify with.
The Surrogate was photographed by Mia Cioffi Henry, who captured the grace of the well-appointed interiors. An additional praise is due to editor Cecilia Delgado for eliminating all soundtrack music, thus allowing viewers to concentrate on the conversations without distractions.
93 minutes Not-Rated © Tami Smith, Film Reviewer