What’s the formula for a happy family? The Baby Formula , a film about a married lesbian couple who use new science to create a baby sans sperm, tackles the question from a variety of viewpoints. And like any pregnancy, the film is half glow, half morning sickness. A moving story is bogged down by the unnecessary device of a documentary-within-the-film: this crutch gets in the way of what is otherwise an interesting and intriguing look at the complicated nature of creating a family-no matter how you do it.
After reading an article that said two female mice had successfully created a baby, director Alison Reid conceived an idea-make a film where the science is a little farther along, and successful in humans. The narrative follows the imagined story of the first women in the world to conceive successfully without sperm.
The film opens with a documentarian interviewing Lilith (Megan Fahlenbock) and Athena (Angela Vint) . Using Lilith’s stem cells, Athena is pregnant with a child that will be truly a part of both her mothers. As the scientists and the girls alike describe their perspectives on the process, Lilith reveals a huge secret-and Athena is furious. As the two navigate the waters of becoming parents, they face an inevitability they’ve been dreading: revealing to their families the reality of how they conceived.
Like a shaky toddler, the first half of the film falters, but with the entrance of the families, it gains its legs and hits the ground running. Athena’s extremely religious parents and creepy younger brother clash with Lilith’s elated, alcoholic two dads, and the film tugs heart strings as all involved learn to open their minds and accept their weaknesses. A dramatic revelation at a family gathering shifts the documentary aspect to the back burner, and the narrative becomes extremely engaging.
Using a diverse cast of characters, the film expresses a wide view of the impact-both personally and culturally-of the re-imagined family structure, and emphasizes the fact that the only thing in a family that truly matters is love. The characters are engaging and hilarious, and while they can veer into stereotypes occasionally, this doesn’t make them any less watchable.
Both the lead actresses were pregnant while filming the movie, and Vint’s water actually broke while filming the scene in the movie where Athena goes into labour. The movie, shot on a low budget with Reid encouraging her actors to improvise and bring their own personalities to the script, is a light-hearted and charming effort.