Private Life, (on Netflix) director Tamara Jenkins first film in twelve years, is an angst filled dramedy about trying to conceive. The grind of unsuccessful IVF treatments, futile search for egg donors and deflective comments to adoption counselors feels lived in, comically and realistically absurd, simultaneously heartfelt and heartbreaking, and always authentic.
The irony of Private Life is that this couple (touchingly acted by Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti) must give it up in order to have a very public family life— something that a live in obliquely related egg donor gives the two an unnoticed taste of. The three, all unsuccessful and struggling artists, speaks of the failure of arts and literature to connect fully with modern workaday society in a way that is self-perpetuating. For them, life is a fall back plan that resists their true dreams and abilities.
Giamatti, an old pro at playing these sad sack intellectual characters, has never been better. Hahn’s, leading lady desperation, frustration and failures often boil over forcing Giamatti to be the sympathetic straight man needing to subdue his inner frustrations for marital harmony. Their work is a true acting partnership and it produces a wonderful baby of a film.
All this makes Private Life the most organic film of the year. Everything feels loose and yet still essential and necessary.
All photos and videos courtesy of Netflix.