Expecting (February 14/03)
Expecting, like the films of Christopher Guest, purports to be completely improvised. A storyline was laid out, and the actors were then allowed to create their own dialogue. And though the film isn't always successful, the tremendously talented cast keeps things moving along throughout.
The film occurs over the space of about 48 hours, as Stephanie (Valerie Buhagiar) prepares to deliver her baby. She's gathered her closest friends around her, and while everyone waits for the birth, secrets are shared and revelations come fast and furiously.
Expecting, not surprisingly, doesn't contain much in the way of plot. The film's essentially a series of inter-connected vignettes, dealing primarily with the various relationships between the eight central characters. At the center of everything is Stephanie, a semi-pretentious performance artist (when we first see her, she's doing some kind of bizarre dance - topless and very pregnant). Because the film spends the majority of its running time inside Stephanie's little apartment, we really get to know the various characters. And since director Deborah Day has assembled a surprisingly effective group of actors, the film mostly manages to remain entertaining all the way through (the inevitable birth sequence is just as painful to watch as you might imagine).
Among the actors, Buhagiar (who, according to the press notes, wasn't even pregnant when she was cast. Now that's dedication!), is certainly the most obvious standout. Buhagiar tackles Stephanie's vulnerability and wide range of emotions without the slightest bit of hesitation, and given that she spends a good deal of the film nude, this is certainly one of the most naked performances (literally and figuratively) you'll see for a while. Among the supporting cast, obviously it was fun watching Colin Mochrie flex his improvisational muscles in a film. But the remainder of the actors are just as good, which makes Expecting the Canadian equivalent of a Christopher Guest film.