Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Little Art-house Film That Could

“Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days” has earned $1 million in the U.S., despite playing on only 44 screens here. The limited release isn’t the only obstacle the film has overcome. For one, the film is about abortion. It’s set in communist Romania and has subtitles, to boot. As puts it, “4-3-2” really is the little art-house film that could.

If you haven’t seen it yet, please do so. This film goes against the grain of U.S. film and television about unplanned pregnancies in which abortion is a choice that characters rarely make. Instead, protagonists in the grips of unplanned pregnancies tend to miscarry, give the child up for adoption or decide to keep it. This stands in stark contrast to the reality that in 2005, the most recent year for which stats are available, 1.2 million abortions were performed in the U.S.

Most women who have abortions in this country do so because they lack the financial means to raise a child. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 57 percent of women who terminate pregnancies in the U.S. are low-income. And more than 60 percent of such women are already mothers.

In “4-3-2, ” the viewer learns little about the pregnant character’s background, but we are given enough information to know that she had a humble upbringing and that a child would likely keep her fixed in that predicament, while the university degree she’s pursuing would likely help her transcend it.

Until societies change to a degree in which women from all economic backgrounds are a) given the resources they need to prevent becoming pregnant and b) given the resources they need to raise a child, abortion will arguably continue to be the answer for large numbers of the poor and pregnant.

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