Unplanned

Ashley Batcher leads the way in “Unplanned.”

Every year around Easter we see an uptick in faith-based films celebrating human life and how no one is promised tomorrow. 

These religious stories are intended to restore faith in miracles, the power of prayer and healing. While religious faith is challenged and debated, politics rarely, if ever, enter a scene. Breaking new ground for religious films, “Unplanned” tosses nearly every proven gambit to deliver one of the year’s best films and remarkable performances by an actress.

A sensational Ashley Bratcher stars as true-life Planned Parenthood volunteer-turned-clinic director Abby Johnson. Bratcher singlehandedly molds and meticulously carries the burden for this sobering presentation from both sides of the fence outside Planned Parenthood. In what’s bound to be Bratcher’s breakout movie, she delivers an earnest and award-caliber performance that shines well above all others in the cast.

The movie is informative, shocking and repulsive all at once. It’s a film I won’t forget anytime soon. In fact, I may never forget this woman’s story: A staunch woman’s right advocate, abortion clinic volunteer and patient, clinical director for one of the world’s most powerful health organizations, and later, a fierce defender of the unborn. 

The inner strength of “Unplanned” is how it never preaches from the front pew on a Sunday morning. Instead, it points to the growing, voiceless fetus cutoff by money, greed and politics. In what could be mistaken as a bloody crime scene, mothers are left with more questions and remorse than answers. Bratcher’s opening argument in defense of Planned Parenthood could’ve been scripted by the company itself. Her eight-year journey to the other side of the fence masterfully is explained and understood.

This is coming from a guy who, when I found out back in 1992 that I was going to be a father for the first time, was overcome with so much happiness and joy to the point of driving one tire off the road and jumping a curb before getting the Jeep’s front tire and my emotions back under control. A new life touched me that much, even at only several weeks old. 

I can’t recommend a movie more strongly than this one. Everyone will learn something from this heartbreaking true story, regardless of your view on abortion. There’s no one better to tell this deeply personal journey and present the facts than a woman who has had an abortion, ran the Planned Parenthood clinic herself and became a fierce defender of the unborn in this, her true story. 

Grade: A+

“Unplanned” is not rated R with a running time of 1 hour and 50 minutes. 

Patrick King is a Tucson resident and writer for the Reel Brief movie blog. Email him at reelbriefmoviewreviews@mail.com.

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