It’s never fair when a new film is compared to a classic, but that’s what I am going to do with False Positive. While this film cribs from many others, it is perhaps most obviously an homage to Rosemary’s Baby. They’re both films in which a young woman gets pregnant but not all is what it seems, and the array of slightly odd characters surrounding her life are clearly not telling her the whole truth.
As the film opens, Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and her husband Adrian (Justin Theroux) have been trying to conceive for nearly two years. He is supportive, and she is determined, even going so far as not to have a single alcoholic drink in that entire time. Finally, faced with the probability that they can’t do it on their own, they pay a visit to Dr Hindle (Pierce Brosnan), Adrian’s former teacher and renowned figure in the world of fertility and in vitro fertilization.
In these first scenes, the whole thing plays out like a satire of upper-class modern living, with their enormous apartment and the doctors stark but perfectly appointed offices feeling like they’re designed by someone keeping up and appearance rather than actually living or working in them. Lucy has a job at a marketing firm where she is full of ideas but is relegated to making sure all the men around her get their lunch on time.
But then she gets pregnant. Very, very pregnant. Dr Hindle, flanked by his most loyal nurse Dawn (Gretchen Mol), performs a procedure, and the pregnancy takes almost immediately. At first, things seem great; the babies are healthy, Adrian is happy, and she lands a huge client for her firm. But, of course, nothing is as it seems, and soon things start to take a sour turn.
Things that at first seemed fine now seem sinister, like Dr Hindle and his nurses in their retro pink outfits, for example. All the assurances in the world from Hindle or Adrian suddenly seem patronizing, as if they are trying to keep something from her. She also starts having waking dreams, and as her sense of reality is thrown off-kilter, so is that of the audience; from this point on, we are often not entirely sure if what we are seeing is real or imagined.
Their apartment takes on a sinister quality as well. Through creative use of lighting and camera work, there are plenty of dark halls for people to disappear into and emerge from, creating some of the more unsettling moments in the film.
While Glazer and Theroux are both good in their roles, it’s Brosnan and Mol that steal the show. Mol brings either a sinisterness to her sweetness or vice versa, depending on what the scene requires, and all the while keeping a smile on her face. Brosnan seems to be having some genuine fun as Hindle, though, and believe me when I tell you that you will never look at any medical equipment the same way after seeing him slowly, carefully, preparing his instruments for Lucy’s procedures.
False Positive isn’t a home run, and the ending goes off the rails in a way that will either delight or confound you. When the final reveal comes at the end, you’ll either be fully on board or completely done, but your jaw will be on the floor either way.
False Positive is playing as part of Tribeca At Home through June 22nd. It will be released on Hulu in the United States on June 25th. No Canadian release information is available at this time.
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