MRR Review: "Expec+ing"

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After years of struggling to conceive with her husband, Lizzie (Radha Mitchell) has given up hope of having a baby on her own. But when her best friend Andie (Michelle Monaghan, SOURCE CODE) finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand, an unexpected solution arises: Andie offers to have the baby and give it to Lizzie. The couple agrees to the plan, on one condition: Andie must move in with them for the duration of the pregnancy. But can the women's friendship survive until birth?
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MRR Review: "Expec+ing"

Rating: NR
Length: 87 minutes
Release Date: December 6, 2013
Directed by: Jessie McCormack
Genre: Comedy, Drama

Andie is a young and vivacious woman who lives life one day at a time and finds herself unexpectedly expecting after a one-night stand. Since Andie isn't in the right physical or emotional state to raise a child, she decides to offer to be a surrogate for her best friend Lizzie. Lizzie and her husband have been trying to have a child of their own for years to no avail. Lizzie jumps at the chance to be a mother to her best friend's child, but only under the condition that Andie lives with them until the baby is born. What at first seems like an extended sleepover quickly turns into a tangled mess that threatens the friendship between Andie and Lizzie. Lizzie and her husband also face their share of obstacles as they prepare to welcome a baby into their home.

Jessie McCormack's directorial debut is charming and witty, filled with unexpected twists and turns. The friendship between Andie and Lizzie takes center stage, making this a refreshing film that truly focuses on the bond between two women rather than pitting them against one another. Although Andie and Lizzie have their relationship hurdles to jump over, they truly care about one another and about making sure that their longtime friendship survives. Lizzie seems like she has it all together, but when Andie moves in, she realizes that her rigid lifestyle may be holding her back from enjoying all that life has to offer. She takes a cue from her more unorthodox friend and learns to embrace the unexpected problems life brings and turn them into new and exciting opportunities.

Meanwhile, Andie has a lot to learn from Lizzie and her stable husband as well. She realizes that she wants more out of life than her easy-breezy ways might suggest, even if she isn't ready to settle down just yet. Andie begins to grow and make changes as she realizes that what seemed like a mistake could turn into a wonderful opportunity to change her best friend's life for the better. Both women gain from one another in spite of their initial conflict, and Lizzie and her husband both take positive steps in their relationship as well.

"Expecting" is a quirky and romantic film that manages to balance equal parts comedy and drama. The personality contrast between Lizzie and Andie provides plenty of humorous scenarios, especially once these two very different women find themselves living under the same roof. "Expecting" isn't the first film to tackle the themes of unexpected pregnancy, surrogacy, and an odd couple living together, but it is the only one so far that has managed to weave all three elements into such a cohesive and interesting storyline.

The cinematography of "Expecting" has all the charm and warmth of an independent film with the high-quality visuals of a film with twice the budget. The actors may be relatively new to the scene, but they fill their roles with pitch-perfect performances and heartwarming depth. It is rare for characters in such a short film to be so well developed. McCormack manages to create a film that leaves audiences wanting more and hoping for a sequel, but "Expecting" certainly stands on its own. In fact, the movie has several novelistic qualities, especially when it comes to expressing the narrative through the perspectives of its main characters.

For anyone who loves a great independent drama that manages to delve into some deep subject matter without losing its lighthearted spirit, "Expecting" is hard to beat. This thoughtful film features a witty script and truly innovative plot directions that resist the formulaic standard.

While most movies require a choice between uniqueness and seamlessness, "Expecting" manages to pull off both quite easily. The film moves effortlessly from one part to another, leaving audiences wanting more without leaving any plot holes unfilled. The characters are warm and relatable in their imperfections and good intent. Lizzie and Andie may think they have opposite problems, but their journey leads them to realize that they've ended up far more similar than they ever could have imagined.

Director Jessie McCormack undoubtedly has a great future ahead of her when it comes to creating realistic independent comedies with a dramatic flair. Michelle Monaghan and Radha Mitchell give splendid performances as Lizzie and Andie, and their roles will definitely leave audiences wanting more from them in the future. From a solid plot to unique twists and a charmingly heartfelt vibe, "Expecting" has all the trappings of a great dramatic comedy and is an ideal addition to any independent film collection.

Rating: 3 out of 5