"Intimate Drama of One Couple’s Struggle"
PRIVATE LIFE follows the story of Richard (Paul Giamatti) and Rachel (Kathryn Hahn), a married couple in their late 40s who are unable to naturally conceive a child. After a tragically failed adoption attempt, they return to previously attempted scientific methods. From IVF treatments for Rachel to various complications and surgeries for Richard, it seems almost impossible for the couple to conceive a child. The stress of one failed attempt after another puts a strain on their marriage, and it seems like only a matter of time before the couple gives up altogether on the idea of having children.
Things turn around for the despondent couple when their step-niece enters their lives. Sadie is Richard’s brother’s screw-up stepdaughter who just dropped out of college with dreams of becoming a writer. Sadie isn’t welcome at her parents, but she finds a home with Richard and Rachel, idolizing them for the brilliant playwrights they are. Sadie’s entrance brightens up the couple’s life, giving them dimension than simply the struggling married couple. However, things get complicated when it becomes clear that Rachel won’t be able to conceive a child at all, and Sadie may be their only hope as a surrogate mother.
PRIVATE LIFE is an in-depth look at the struggles that couples go through to conceive children. The story itself is full of dramatic conflict, and the performances are solid enough to create rich characters for the ride. Richard and Rachel suffer so many setbacks on their journey to parenthood it becomes tough to watch. They also try so many different avenues, it causes the movie to drag. So, at certain points, viewers can feel the running time. Yet, the dramatic struggles in the story comes across, and the movie does a good job of painting a portrait of two people who never give up. No matter how strained their marriage gets, Richard and Rachel find ways to support each other. The movie is just as much about their marriage and support of one another as it is about their journey to be parents.
That said, PRIVATE LIFE feels almost too intimate at times, peering into the lives of people going through hardships rarely talked about at dinner parties. The filmmakers use this excuse to throw in various elements of nudity and explicit content, which could be construed as an element of realism but which is ultimately unnecessary to the story. Also, Richard and Rachel don’t have any religious faith or spiritual connection to God to get them through the journey. The morality of their decisions is brought up multiple times throughout the movie whenever they discuss whether or not it is natural or proper to have children in artificial ways. Thus, PRIVATE LIFE has a strong humanist worldview with plenty of strong foul language.
PRIVATE LIFE follows the struggles of Rachel and Richard, a married couple in their 40s who are unable to naturally conceive and try any scientific means available to have a child. Just when their marriage is falling apart, and they can’t take any more failed attempts, their college dropout step-niece, Sadie, arrives at their door. Sadie may be the perfect option as a surrogate mother. However, Sadie’s willingness to help may cause more complications on the couple’s journey to parenthood.
Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti and Kayli Carter give good performances in this drama full of struggle and perseverance, but the movie is slow going at times as well as almost too intimate at times. Also, the couple relies completely on their own strength instead of faith to find a way to bring a child into the world. PRIVATE LIFE also has frequent foul language, various elements of nudity and other excessive explicit content. This subject matter is a controversial and sensitive subject and viewers should be advised of the thematic elements, as well as the explicit content when going into the movie.