‘The Choice’ is a film about abortion that, perhaps for the first time, goes beyond the purely political. It gives us an insight into how people actually go about their decision to have a termination and how they feel about it afterwards. The film is not for or against ‘choice’ in the political sense. Rather, it adds new layers to our understanding of the nature of ‘the choice’. In short, it is a film about the experience, not politics, of abortion.
The film is built around six core stories with people of diverse age and background. Natalie is 30 and works in PR. In the film she talks about the abortion she had in her early 20’s when she was working as a political advisor. Pauline is 61, a nurse, and has 3 children and 9 grandchildren. She tells us about the two abortions she had during her 30 year relationship and marriage to Ron. Ruth is 29 and currently works as a receptionist. Although her parents were involved in the Right to Life movement she had two abortions in her early 20’s while at uni. Catarina, the daughter of Dutch migrants, is a 45 year old librarian who speaks about the abortion she had after she got engaged. Hiroko is a 27 year old Japanese-Australian who works as a trainer in the hospitality industry. She talks about the two abortions she had in her early 20’s.
‘The Choice’ does something new by also bringing men into the discussion. The sixth character is Firak who is 40 and runs a restaurant. Firak talks about the relationship he had in his early 20’s in which his partner had several abortions. These men and women share their most intimate thoughts about what it was like to be suddenly confronted with an unplanned pregnancy. Their stories reveal the varied and complex circumstances in which people struggle to work through their options and make, what for most, is a difficult choice.
‘The Choice’ is built around two simple elements – interviews and ‘cityscapes’ - visual montages shot in and around the Melbourne CBD. The interviews have an impressionistic and, at times, poetic feeling. The cityscape montages interweave with the interviews setting up a kind of dialogue between the two – a space in which we can reflect on the themes that emerge in the interviews.
The ‘cityscapes’ have a winter look and feel reflecting the fact that going through an abortion is usually a ‘wintery’ episode in peoples’ lives. These montages also have their own narrative arc - going from morning to night across the duration of the film. In effect they make up a day in the life of the city, the big, bustling, uncaring city. The images evoke a sense of the anonymity and isolation that often surrounds people faced with making a decision about a termination.
The ‘cityscapes’ also highlight one of the biggest themes to emerge in the film. It is the struggle or conflict our characters talk about between the tug of the ‘inner’ - the new life they feel inside them when falling pregnant, and the contrary tug of the ‘outer’ – the expectations, ambitions and plans they have for their lives.