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REVIEW: ‘October Baby’ is refreshing & moving

Editor’s note: “October Baby” opens this weekend.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP) — “October Baby” is an unexpected film which takes viewers through one of life’s most vulnerable times, leaving them alternately holding their heart and grabbing for tissues.

In an age when the family increasingly is under assault and ridiculed for its values and every major news outlet shows us the face of an American young woman seemingly comfortable talking about her need for recreational sex — October Baby’s Hannah explodes onto the scene.

Hannah is a beautiful 19-year old college freshman who embarrassingly collapses on stage in her college Shakespeare debut. Battling a number of health issues like epilepsy and asthma, she fends off her parents and doctors from thinking she’s been popping pills or indulging in alcohol — only to find she was adopted at birth after a failed abortion.

Rachel Hendrix is a convincing Hannah as she finds her way home in a coming of age movie bolstered by John Schneider as her adopted father Jacob. Overprotective, angry and hurting all at the same time, he takes viewers on what fathers everywhere surely experience as they loosen the reins to let their offspring discover who they are.

No doubt the movie sends strong messages about the beauty of life, the importance of each life — but it’s not preachy. It doesn’t need to be. It’s pro-life, but October Baby is also about choices. It’s about the choice to save a life. It’s about the choice to adopt a child. It’s about the choice to raise a child. It’s about the choice to forgive. It’s about the choice to forgive others. It’s about the choice to forgive one’s self.

Surprisingly, I found the movie young. And it was refreshing. The choices these young people make are filtered through a Christian worldview. As Hannah embarks on a road trip with her peers to learn the truth about her background, the hotel rooms and beach scenes are natural, but chaste and substance free.

Borrowing a leaf, and an actor, from another recent more serious life movie, “Courageous,” Miami native Robert Amaya plays a cop on the beach. In a warm-funny scene, Hannah simply tells him her tale and he lets the motley crew get away with their vehicle without impounding it. One would almost think humor is misplaced in a movie touted as pro-life, but life is funny and the comedy relief is welcome.

There are also simply gut-wrenching scenes in the movie with Shari Rigby, as Cindy, Hannah’s birth mother. In these, I clutched my coat — and learned later why the big screen sparked with emotion. What happened on the screen was real, Rigby explains in an outtake — being able to forgive herself for a past abortion, and being able to receive forgiveness.

In one way the movie has these big, deep issues like abortion and adoption, but in another way it’s just a very real movie about families and the way they work things out.

See the movie. Take friends to the movie. It’s rated PG-13 for thematic content.
This column first ran in the Florida Baptist Witness, online at GoFBW. Read the Baptist Press preview story on October Baby at www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37326.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan/Florida Baptist Witness