Surrogate parenthood is a complex world to navigate for all parties involved, even when everything goes according to plan. In his feature debut, writer/director Jeremy Hersh explores one such situation through a story rife with complications, leading to introspective ruminations on a variety of topics for characters and viewers alike.
Jess Harris (TV actor Jasmine Batchelor) is delighted to be an egg donor and surrogate mother for her best friend Josh (Chris Perfetti, The Night Of) and his husband Aaron (Sullivan Jones, The Looming Tower). However, when prenatal testing reveals that the child will be born with Down syndrome, all three progressive late-20somethings are shaken with the difficult path ahead and struggle in knowing how to proceed.
The Surrogate is a philosophical and sociological quagmire, and the moral questions presented by the premise alone are ripe for debate and discussion. The only detail undermining its greatness is that Hersh merely implies that Jess is close enough to the married couple to want to take on such a life-altering role. While character development is particularly lacking as it pertains to their relationship, the chemistry between the performers nearly compensates for this flaw and doesn’t take away from the aim of the film, which is for viewers to consider the ethical dilemmas that are raised. Jess’ character, however, is sufficiently well-written to convince viewers of her motivations and conflicted feelings, and Batchelor adeptly plays through these complex emotions from start to finish.
The Surrogate thrillingly raises more questions than it answers and is an exercise in the exploration of morality and decisions surrounding pregnancy, birth, disability, prenatal technology, ethics and friendship. It’s sure to give viewers plenty to think about long after the credits roll.
Available to rent via fineartstheatre.com