The first few minutes of the new movie, "Unplanned," are the most difficult.
The film doesn't begin with Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director Abby Johnson as a starting out as a clinic volunteer her junior year of college. It doesn't begin with her getting a full time job at Planned Parenthood counseling vulnerable women that an abortion is the solution to their problems. It doesn't begin with her promotion to clinic director—the youngest in the nation.
It starts with an abortion itself. It starts with a raw, unapologetic look at what happens during an ultrasound-guided abortion.
The fetus' initial effort to pull away from the abortionist's tool invading the womb.
The abortionist's "Beam me up, Scotty" when the vacuum tube has latched onto a tiny leg.
And then the other.
And then the blood flowing through the translucent tubes.
And then the torso.
And still more blood.
And then an empty space, where a child once resided.
After being involved in more than 22,000 abortions by her own count, this was the first time that Johnson was actually in the room where it happens.
And it broke her.
Ultrasound technology has been the best tool there is to expose the lies that pro-abortion (and make no mistake, they are pro-abortion, not pro-choice) advocates tell young women who are hurt and vulnerable. What you see in those first few minutes isn't a clump of cells or the products of conception ("pieces of children" one of the characters in the movie morbidly jokes at one point).
And it's that simple picture that sets in motion a story of hope and redemption.
I usually hesitate to go to "Christian" movies because almost without fail they're just terrible. (I'm looking at you "God's Not Dead.") And I must confess that there are a handful of those holier than thou, cringeworthy moments—like the pastor quoting Psalm 139. Such appeals to religion get the choir nodding, but do little to appeal to the unconverted. However, those moments pass quickly in "Unplanned" and don't tend to linger.
I was really worried early in the movie that actors Jared Lotz and Emma Elle Roberts who play the married couple Shawn and Marilisa who run the 40 Days for Life program and prayed and counseled women going to the clinic were going to come off as saccharine and cookie-cutter, but they turned out to have some surprising depth and compassion which gave the pro-life movement they represent a better look than they tend to portray even in friendly films.
Ashley Bratcher does a great job as Abby Johnson. My only complaint is that she looks late-20s/early-30s even when she's supposed to be an 18-year-old college freshman. I realize this film doesn't have the budget to do the CGI, but I suspect something could've been done with makeup.
"Unplanned" is far better than most of the "faith" films that come out in theaters or go direct to DVD. There has been some controversy over the film's R-rating, but that may be the only honest thing to come out of Hollywood this year. While the opening scene is brutal and gory, it's because abortion is brutal and gory. If this is just a harmless outpatient procedure to remove a clump of cells, then this is a PG movie.
Abortion isn't, and not even Hollywood can pretend it is.