Life Choices partnered with First Christian Church here in Dyersburg on Thursday evening to screen the movie October Baby, an independent film about a college freshman, Hannah Lawson, played by newcomer Rachel Hendrix who discovers that she is the adopted survivor of an aborted pregnancy. The film was released in limited cities last fall before moving to a wider release in March of this year. The film with a production budget of under $1 million grossed more than $5 million dollars nationwide and far exceeded expectations for a small film, cast with largely an unknown group of actors.
The film begins with Hannah preparing for her first theatrical appearance in a college play when something goes wrong. Hannah is overcome with an asthma attack and collapses on the stage moments after the play begins. With her parents looking on played by John Schneider (best known for his role as Bo Duke in the 70's sitcom Dukes of Hazard) and Jennifer Price, Hannah's doctor breaks the news to her that the physical symptoms she has experienced throughout her life are related to her premature birth after a failed abortion attempt. Hannah also discovers that she is adopted.
As Hannah struggles with emotions of not being wanted and constantly feeling like she is drowning, her lifelong friend and crush Jason (Jason Burkey) invites her to go on a Spring Break road trip to New Orleans with a small detour to Mobile, Ala., the city where Hannah was born. Hesitant at first, Hannah embarks on the adventure to find her birth mother and discover who she truly is.
After other shocking secrets are revealed, Hannah finds her birth mother (Shari Rigby) only to be rejected once again. Filled with the prospect of feeling like she may never be wanted Hannah finds the path to healing through grace and forgiveness.
Although there are faith driven themes in the movie it does not dominate the film with writer Jon Erwin choosing instead to make Hannah's struggles the primary focus of the film. The script is a little bit rough in some places but the lead actors often make you forget the shortcomings of the movie especially Burkey. His patience in the role is evident throughout the movie and he has you rooting for his character to confess his obvious attraction for Hannah.
Other touching performances are given by Rigby and Jasmine Guy as Mary, the nurse that was at the abortion facility the day Hannah's abortion attempt failed. Rigby gives a heart-felt and brave tribute at the end of the film confessing that she had aborted a pregnancy and how the film has allowed her to tell the story. In a moving scene Rigby's character collapses on the floor for the lost relationship with the daughter she never wanted. Rigby says in the tribute that there was no acting in the scene as she felt God's healing presence use the scars of her own life.
Viewers should not see the film if they are expecting quality on the scale of a blockbuster film. However, for film watchers that enjoy independent made films this is a must see.
October Baby will be released on DVD on Tuesday, Sept. 11