Coverage of Chicago International Film Festival Begins With ’24 Weeks’ Review
NOTE: Noted national film critic Connie Corcoran Wilson will be providing coverage of this year’s Chicago International Film Festival for QuadCities.com! Check out her reviews and features on what’s new and exciting in film debuting during the festival.
The German film “24 Weeks” from Director Anne Zohra Berrached was screened in Chicago for 8 members of the press on Wednesday, October 5th. It is the story of a popular stand-up comedienne (think a German version of Amy Schumer) who finds herself pregnant by her live-in long-time love and manager, only to discover, several months into her pregnancy, that her unborn child will have both Down’s syndrome and a serious heart condition.
Movingly portrayed by German actress Julia Jentsch, this is not a “feel good” movie. Comedienne Astrid Lorenz (Julia Jentsch) shows every sign of being a woman on the fast track to comedy success. Onstage, she even jokes, “You can tell a decent joke and lactate,” to an adoring audience.
That is all before the couple discovers the serious health problems their second child will face.
Astrid’s manager and live-in love of 8 years, Markus Hager (Bjorne Madel) is very pro-life and wants to do everything to make this second child happen. (“It feels wrong somehow to decide whether a human being lives or dies.”) Astrid (Julia Jentsch) is initially in synch with her spouse’s wishes. But, as time goes on, she becomes more convinced that, as she explains to their young daughter, Nele (Emilia Piescke), “I don’t think he (the unborn fetus) will have a nice life.”
I was the only woman in the theater today watching “24 Weeks.”
I sensed outrage amongst the male critics present when the hospital authorities told the frustrated father of the child, “In Germany, ultimately it’s your wife’s decision. That’s the law.” Markus (the prospective father) rails against any talk of a late-term abortion, which would be achieved by injecting potassium chloride into the fetus’ heart, after which the mother would go into induced labor and give birth to a dead child. Markus tells Astrid, “You can’t do it. Nothing else matters.”
This is a film about life-altering decisions and the people who have to make them.
It is extremely well acted and well written (also by Director Anne Zohra Berrached). The topic is still an ongoing debate in this country and will continue to be after the upcoming election. Abortion and capital punishment are always “hot button” issues.
And, no, I won’t tell you what decision Astrid made.
That really would be a “spoiler.”