*. Sometimes movies get forced into unfair comparisons, but other times the shoe, unfortunately, fits. That’s the case with False Positive, which is a modern retelling of Rosemary’s Baby. It’s not just that the comparisons are unavoidable, but that none of them are in this film’s favour. They did try to go in a different direction, but nothing worked.
*. Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and Adrian (Justin Theroux) are a young couple not having any success having a baby. They go to see a fertility specialist named Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan) who used to be one of Adrian’s teachers. I guess Adrian is a doctor himself but he doesn’t seem to do anything, or even know much about anything. But then he’s a man. The film has a randomly feminist point of view, which includes Lucy being treated unfairly at the ad agency she works at.
*. Obviously all is not right. Dr. Hindle oozes patriarchal menace, complemented by his fetish-doll assistant Gretchen Mol. Adrian doesn’t seem on the level after we see him using violent pornography to get a sample. It’s those men again!
*. Then there are Lucy’s nightmares and fantasies. The result of her foggy mommy-brain? The drugs she’s taking? Or is there really something sinister going on? Could it be that Dr. Hindle’s clinic is actually a front for a coven of devil-worshiping New Yorkers?
*. Nothing that interesting, unfortunately. There’s actually less going on here than meets the eye. Even the more provocative of Lucy’s visions (like witnessing a homosexual tryst in a hotel room) turn out to be just air. This left me disappointed and confused. Just what was I watching? With the talent involved, including director John Lee, I think a lot of people were expecting a sort of dark comedy. But it’s not funny. And it’s not scary. And its politics are muddled. Are all male doctors heels? And just because a Magical Negro character (the “midwife with soul”) says “I am not your Magical Negress” doesn’t make it so.
*. It will likely be uncomfortable viewing for many. Obstetric horror gets a lot of mileage out of stirrups and speculums and jelly (though I’ve always liked the jelly being rubbed on my belly when getting an ultrasound). But the story is just too layered with confusing dead ends and suggestions that are more intriguing than what (I think) is really going on. Plus, when you realize that every time something really disturbing starts to happen it’s inevitably going to be “just a dream,” the film is effectively neutered.
*. There are more ideas and motifs in play (like the twins/mirrors) than they seem to have known what to do with. I was actually looking forward to Lucy as Medea and pulling a double Andy Warhol at the end, but that’s another door that opens onto an empty room and they finally opt for a bit of gooey weirdness to wing things up with. I give everyone credit for trying, but the results are a classic example of too much and not enough.