Reviewed for FilmFactual.com & BigAppleReviews.net, linked from Rotten Tomatoes by Harvey Karten
Director: Tarun Verma
Screenwriter: Tarun Verma
Cast: Kareem Ghuneim, Simren Lalani, Anjel Goldmine, Mai Le, Joe Grisaffi, Jessica Law-Davis
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 10/8/22
Opens: October 11, 2022
When I was dating, I became accustomed to hearing my prospective girlfriends say, “You men. When you see a woman, you have only one thing on your mind.” I couldn’t very well counter such a truth, but I was able to respond, “You women have only one thing on your mind.” We all know what that is and it’s a six-letter word, hint: “babies.” Maybe the situation is not dire, since what’s on our mind can meet what’s on theirs.
Tarun Verma, whose 2010 freshman movie “Aaj Kal” is about singles coming of age in their relationships, does not stroll far from his base with “Conception.” His new film is simple enough, dealing with what so many couples must be going through long before Federerico García Lorca made that clear in his 1934 play “Yerma”—about a childless woman who becomes so obsessed with having a baby that she commits a horrific crime. “Conception” is in no way on the same page as the Spanish classic but should find an audience especially of young people who may be thinking of what might happen if they get together and agree to have a little one, but fail.
In this tale Vic (Kareem Ghuneim) and Ami (Simren Lalani) open up with typical dating dialogue, two people successful in their professions. Vic tries to impress his date with some lame jokes which, later on, become a source of hostility once he and Ami get married. He’s a city cat, an adventurer who toys with the idea of a pleasure trip to Dubai but who, in the interest of being supportive, agrees to try to start a family and to move to the suburbs—where he does not fit in. They find that after 24 months they could be the only couple in a suburban neighborhood without children. And this is certainly not for lack of trying.
They go through the steps in some order that must have been devised by sadistic scientists, ending up with trying IVF (n vitro fertilization), which I had thought would be the first step but I stand corrected by Mr. Verma. Their Dr. Barry (Joe Grisaffi) is sympathetic, warning them that IVF will not be covered by insurance and involves expensive capsules, injections, and of course the visits to the doctor. The bliss that Ami and Vic felt before they attempted to make a copy of themselves turns to arguments; she feels bad on strong medications and he, who never shows much passion for making babies, is fed up with the ‘burbs.
The acting is competent, a pair of young people trying to deal with a banal script, the cinematography undemanding. “Conception” offers enlightenment for people who never heard of the struggles that some go through without success. Otherwise, there’s not much here unless you are an undemanding audience.
101 minutes. © 2022 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – C-
Acting – B
Technical – B-
Overall – C