Jay Hates Movies

The Last Conception (2020) Film Review

Let’s make a baby.

The Last Conception is a quirky romantic comedy about a young woman who faces immense pressure to be a mother. However, things are a little more complex here as our heroine has also decided to not tell her parents that she is gay, yet.

We follow Savarna (Nazanin Mandi) as she decides it is time to come out to her parents amidst pressures from them for her to have a child. What follows is a smorgasbord of events, histories, and unlikely bloodlines that the entire family system must navigate without going too crazy.

I don’t write a lot of reviews for comedies and romantic comedies are perhaps the least viewed on this entire blog. I was a little wary to review a movie in a genre I tend to not enjoy. However, I was a bit surprised with this one.

The best thing about this movie is the characters. In a weird way, Savarna is the least engaging character as she is the most normal of those around her. Her quirky girlfriend Charley (Callie Schuttera) ends up winning over Savarna’s mom and dad with ease. Things seem to be going well as the dynamic settles into the new normal.

Then grandma arrives.

While the premise of the film gives a hint for a minor spoiler, I’m going to go ahead stay vague with the specifics. It ends up that the family has ties to an ancient historical figure and that Savarna is the last person capable of continuing the bloodline. Grandma has come all the way from India to make sure that a baby is made.

We have a lot to unpack with this movie. Pressures on women to have children, coming out, parental acceptance of gay children, determining your own goals (as opposed to your parents), and what type of responsibility we have to the past are only a few. The story does an interesting thing where we head right into heavy territory, introduce it, and then drift back to the loving family story. I usually prefer dramas, but this one does a good job of introducing heady topics while keeping things kind of light.

The friction between drama and comedy is usually done quite well. I do think the sequencing of events, particularly in the first third of the film leaves a little to be desired. We have to smash in a lot of information for the viewers while trying to introduce a lot of characters. I ended up liking all of the characters by the midway point but was uncertain at the beginning. The film needed more time to stretch out the intros to the characters and the story. There is so much here that it could have been a limited series. As it is now, we have moments that don’t work as well as the film does as a whole.

I don’t mind that the discussions in the film stay light, and the conversations generated are interesting. Where familial responsibility versus personal identity ends is something a lot of people still contend with. (There is also a cultural split here that I as an American might not pick up on entirely).

We do have some odd turns in the narrative that continue to raise the stakes, but also keep with the kind of odd tone of the movie. The broad strokes of the story work well even if some of the finer details get a little blurred due to pacing.

I ended up liking this one more than I would have expected. The weirdest part of the movie for me is how little advertising seems to have been done. Granted, this could be yet another victim of lockdowns and limited release, but this movie has a lot going for it. We have a non-western focused indie film that focuses on LGBT and women’s issues in an approachable way. This one seems like a slam dunk for one that would appeal widely.

This movie is good for showing a romantic comedy without all the normal mean-spirited crap that seems to infest the genre. This one shows a family that likes each other deal with completely strange (and funny) circumstances. It stands out to me for having managed to make a film where I actually cared about the characters.

I haven’t read the book, but I’m guessing we get more of Savarna’s inner thoughts, which is something we are missing here. For folks looking for a rom com with an indie vibe I think this one is worth watching.

In the end, this is a nice film with fun people who you’d want to get to know.