How does a couple decide what is right when both individuals in the relationship believe in something different? That is exactly what Leena Pendharkar’s film, ’20 Weeks’ discussed at its US premiere on Monday, June 19 at the LA Film Festival.
‘20 Weeks’ unfolds the story of expecting couple, Ronan (Amir Arison, “The Blacklist”) and Maya (Ann Margaret Hollyman, “Mr. Roosevelt”) after they undergo a routine 20-week scan that reveals a serious health condition that could likely affect their child later in life. In wake of the scan, Ronan and Maya must then decide on a crucial decision regarding their unborn child all while they begin to question their relationship.
The film is inspired by Pendharkar and her daughter who was actually born with the health condition that mimics Ronan and Maya’s fictionalized child. Besides a compelling script, that is packed full of laughs as it is with unexpected twists and plenty of tender moments, what truly makes ’20 Weeks’ a phenomenal film is the on-screen chemistry between Arison and Hollyman.
Only having meet through brief interactions with Hollyman before the first shooting of the film Arison said in a post screening Q&A session, the dynamic between Arison and Hollyman is outstandingly believable that transcends the concerns and uncertainty that real life couples face when they are expecting.
However, it is not solely a story about as a couple that takes the forefront in “20 Weeks” but also about the individuals who make up the couple unit and how having a baby can affect it, especially on the female perspective.
Both Arison and Hollyman are portrayed as in their 30s and set in different priorities. While Ronan aspires to be a father, Maya still is very much career orientated and is not ready to sacrifice her dreams to continue her writing profession (and her body) to settle down as mother.
This dynamic can be best felt in the scene when Maya and Ronan are picking out items for the baby registry. What starts off as a sweet and fun outing for the couple that demonstrates the excitement Maya and Ronan have for the birth, it quickly escalates into an explosive argument that displays their differences as they attempt to navigate through the pregnancy. Later on, while Maya is attempting to salvage a promise that he made to her that they stay together, it seems that Ronan only becomes concerned about the baby and entirely becomes uncaring for Maya.
Although their relationship seems to centered in “20 Weeks” at the same time it truly initiates the uncomfortable yet important conversation that many real-life couples face in similar situations like Ronan and Maya that is not openly discussed when regarding the possibility of having a “handicapped” child.
Overall, ’20 Weeks’ proves to be a beautifully crafted, 90-minute piece with a powerful script that generates real life conversations.