October 8, 2018

SCREEN | Tamara Jenkins Observes the 'Private Life' on Netflix

"They're like fertility junkies!"
Paul Giamatti Kathryn Hahn Tamara Jenkins | Private Life Netflix

Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti are sensational as a middle-aged couple desperate to both conceive and adopt a baby in Private Life. Full of truisms and hellish real-life experiences about trying to get pregnant and infertility, The Savages filmmaker Tamara Jenkins spins a charming tale of marriage and intimacy so poignantly.

Young actress Kayli Carter is the secret ingredient in the mix as the pair's college-aged, free-spirited step-niece, Sadie. Avoiding her studies and responsibilities, she temporarily shacks up at their East Village apartment during their fertility and adoption struggles before they proposition her to be their egg donor.

Full of highs and lows, Jenkins treats the couple's prospects of parenthood as one big gamble or lottery to great effect. John Carroll Lynch and Molly Shannon as Giamatti's brother and his wife (and Sadie's parents) add a nice balance to the hectically comic yet realistically ridiculous character drama.

How Jenkins explores the absurdities of in vitro fertilization as an analogy for finally growing up, accepting adulthood, and living with the consequences of your life choices is subtly brilliant. The heartbreaking humour truly breathes life into its characters effortlessly.

Private Life mines its bittersweet comedy from the truth of advanced romantic relationships where the focus veers off the couple's actual interactions with each other beyond their shared lives. It's crushingly honest in how it uses human fertility as a dramatic metaphor for self-worth.

Private Life is available for streaming on Netflix.

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