A review of the movie Unplanned

Jul 29, 2019 | Corey Sleep

The abortion controversy recently resurfaced with the movie Unplanned and it’s release in Canadian theatres. I wanted to see the movie for myself, and thought it was worth sharing a brief review. 

I’ve believed for some time that choosing to abort a pregnancy was to dehumanize the unborn as unwanted and un-human. This is not to say that such a choice is ever made lightly! 

Nonetheless, after seeing the movie Unplanned my concerns deepened as I witnessed Abby Brannam’s emotional first-hand journey from her time working at an abortion clinic to unborn advocate.  

To be sure, the movie has an agenda and bias. It is clear about that from the beginning, and yet surprised me with its nuance. 

Within the first 5 minutes my eyes were wide (and stomach churning) as I saw an abortion depicted on screen.

“It’s moving away [from the vacuum instrument],” Abby, the abortion advocate turned pro-lifer says, shocked. 

“They always do that,” the doctor replied. 

Abby is describing what she sees on the ultrasound: a relatively tiny fetus trying to avoid the snake-like monster trying to suck it out of its home. It’s a horrifying sight, not least of all when the head, far to big for the vacuum hose, gets forced through it. 

The blood and guts are all brought through the tube and into a large vial of sorts. Later on, you find out that the head of the clinic has to sign off on each specimen that has been removed from its mother, ensuring that each “piece” is accounted for. 

Why? Because any missing pieces could still be in the mother. 

Whether or not the CGI ultrasound or exact reenactments are accurate, even the basic details are horrifying enough. 

Tens of thousands of these things happen at any given clinic in the United States and Canada each year. 

Later, we’re given a depiction of what taking mifepristone (or, the abortion pill–formerly called RU-486) looks like. It is painful, bloody, and no doubt a traumatic experience.

As a film, Unplanned is a bit strange. Production value varies, as does the acting and writing. Most performances are believable, and the realistic, persuasive tone of the movie helps me forgive some cheesy lines and odd directing choices. It almost feels like a kind of documentary at times without the interviews. 

I understand the filmmakers were going for the emotions, but I personally rarely find that open crying scenes are helpful on film. These are numerous in the movie and Ashley Bratcher (playing the lead character Abby) does an alright job, all things considered. 

There’s also an attempt at bringing some Christian spirituality into the movie, but this Christian movie falls a bit short where many do: making faith real, clear, and uncheesy. Dialogue here feels somewhat forced, attempting to be “accessible” by watering some things down. But in doing so the scene loses some substance and gravitas. 

All that said, I still believed Abby’s transformation. Her character arc shines in this movie, making the film an overall success. 

As to bias, once again, I felt the film was surprisingly nuanced. The Christian characters weren’t all “perfect” and people at Planned Parenthood weren’t all “evil”. I only thought one character may have been over-caricatured, but that’s hard for me to know as someone separated from the real story. 

I genuinely enjoyed the film. It struck me and I’ll never think about abortion the same way again. I appreciated the overall performances and the characters and relationships they portrayed. It was, overall, solid and compelling. 

It might be too late for you to see the film in theatres in Canada, but I’d say the movie is worth your watch, if only to begin to think deeper about the topic of abortion and its impact. 

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About the Author

Corey Sleep

Corey graduated from McMaster University in Kinesiology but in the end couldn’t resist a call to ministry. He now works with Power to Change – Students dividing his time between campus ministry and creating blog and other content. You can check out his personal blog at rexcommentary.wordpress.com.

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