Opening September 22, 2016
Directed by: Anne Zohra Berrached
Writing credits: Carl Geber and Anne Zohra Berrached
Principal actors: Julia Jentsch, Bjarne Maedel, Joanna Gastdorf, Emilia Pieske
What would you do?
Astrid, a successful comedian and cabaretist (once again a superb performance by Jentsch) and her husband and manager, Markus, (sympathetically portrayed by Maedel) are happily married and the parents of a lively nine-year old daughter, Nele (Peske). Astrid is 12 weeks pregnant with their second and longed for child when they learn that the baby will probably be born with Down’s Syndrome. After a heartfelt discussion, the couple decide they will not abort the baby.
They introduce Nele to other kids with Down’s and discuss the situation with both sets of parents, (who are concerned and suggest abortion) but they persevere. Then--at 24 weeks-- they learn that the baby’s physical and mental problems will be far more severe than they had anticipated. They have to decide whether or not the child can even have a viable and happy life, if Astrid can continue her career, and if the entire family can cope with the situation.
Abortion is legal in Germany up to birth, providing there are serious medical and/or psychological indications. But at 24 weeks, the baby could survive outside the womb and therefore the choice, whether or not to abort, becomes even more difficult when the (shocking) details of the necessary medical procedure are revealed.
The couple have agonizing discussions--unable to reach a decision, but Astrid is the one legally responsible. As such, she realizes that she alone must make the choice between the life or death of the baby in her womb.
Director, Anne Zohra Berrached, deeply concerned about her subject, spent nearly a year talking to couples that had experienced this frightening choice, and interviewing doctors and psychologists. The final script incorporates, sometimes verbatim, the information from these tape-recorded interviews. The film is vivid, moving, and emotionally challenging. It left me sad and shaken. ( )