The Business of Being Born
Directed by Abby Epstein
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Ricki Lake asks mothers to consider home childbirth instead of hospital delivery.
The Business of Being Born wants to make people uncomfortable, said Andrew O’Hehir in Salon.com. This affecting, no-holds-barred examination of home childbirth is part of Ricki Lake’s personal campaign to get mothers-to-be out of hospitals and back into their homes. The former talk-show host produced the film and enlisted director Abby Epstein to join her crusade against the “pharmaceutically driven production line of the maternity ward.” The film’s filled with graphic sequences of childbearing, including one of Lake giving birth buck-naked in her bathtub. Although visually jarring, the scenes are “shattering, inspiring, and prodigiously emotional.” Lake and Epstein are not exactly out to be fair or journalistic; they’re also not trying to condemn other women’s choices. They keep the film from becoming “overtly political,” said Stephen Holden in The New York Times, and their “feminism is palpable but unspoken.” Epstein anchors the film with her own pregnancy, which requires a breech-birth procedure and inevitably a hospital visit. She recognizes that home childbirth isn’t for everyone, and “resists the urge to make herself the story,” said Noel Murray in The Onion. The Business of Being Born undoubtedly plays out as “more propaganda than cinema,” but it is a “small victory” for the filmmakers.
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