24 Weeks (2016)

© Friede Clausz
© Friede Clausz
Directed by Anne Zohra Berrached

In Germany, late term abortions are allowed in the case of possible disability. This is the choice faced by Astrid (Julia Jentsch), a standup comedian pregnant with her second child. She finds out that her child has Down syndrome, and then later on perhaps something more life threatening. It’s provocative subject matter to say the least, especially here in the Philippines where almost all talk of abortion is completely verboten. The film carries out its story with startling frankness, the characters (and the audience) basically forced to confront the reality of their choices. This isn’t set up to be just some triumphant story of life and love finding a way. The whole movie is built around the idea of having the conversation, of giving legitimacy to a choice that no woman should ever have to make.

The film is ultimately more informative than it is dramatically satisfying. Some of its conflicts seem to resolve off screen, the film at times not doing the job of showing these characters reaching their turning points. This story is a bit more intriguing in the early portions, when the odds aren’t really stacked against these characters, and the choice is a little bit more up in the air. But there are plenty of moments of real grace and power in this film, a lot of it owing to a genuinely moving performance from Julia Jentsch.

by Philbert Dy