Directed by Matt Ott
Starring Sonja O’Hara, Katie Morrison, Jaspal Binning, Karin Agstam, Laura Poe
Indie Film Review by Amy Cornforth
It’s always refreshing to see more female–centric pieces of cinema, focusing on real issues more personal to the female gender, alongside in depth studies of flawed female characters. Indie film Ovum fits into this category like a glove. Like the protagonist, we are newcomers to the sinister and invasive world of ‘designer’ egg donation, and the characters which inhabit it – and we witness the mental and physical impact it has on the donors. Through dark–comedy, cold clinical cinematography, and a score which is almost psychedelic, Ovum highlights the unethical aspects of ‘designer’ eggs through a very eye–opening piece of filmmaking, which ranges from funny, to seriously unsettling.
Aspiring actor, Calpurnia Dylan, (Sonja O’Hara) sets her heart on the role in an off–Broadway show. Determined, she decides to adopt a method approach to acting, and applies to be an egg donor as research. However, she soon finds herself knee–deep in the shady world of ‘designer’ egg clinics, and it takes its toll on her personal life and career, although she forms a connection with veteran egg donor and model, Ellen (Katie Morrison).
The film has a bit of a rocky start and opens with a more conventional comedic tone, which it deviates from very quickly. However, the script is definitely one of its strongest assets, drawing from writer Sonja O’Hara’s own experiences as both an aspiring actor and an egg donor, and it derives dark comedy by parodying stereotypes from the acting community. Calpurnia has moments where she is almost like a walking parody, a view which fades as the story becomes more focused on egg donation.
Overall, the performances in the film are very good, although both Katie Morrison and Sonja O’Hara have a habit of overacting a little at certain moments. Nevertheless, Sonja O’Hara is successful in making Calpurnia a comical, if a little insufferable, character who gradually becomes more sympathetic. She is at her best when working with Katie Morrison, as the two of them have undeniable chemistry. This is complemented by the cinematography, which is beautifully constructed to highlight the growing attraction between the two of them, mainly through close–ups, and framing the two of them together. Conversely, the cinematography also works to make the ‘designer’ egg clinic seem cold and unnatural, at one point even framing Fiona (Karin Agstam) the Ovum–Coordinator’s, face in fragments, so she seems equally inhuman – and this is matched by her purposefully tight and unnatural performance.
Through the use of uncomfortable dream sequences, and a slowly decreasing number of comedic moments as the film progresses, the indie film really sheds light on a subject which hasn’t been explored in such depth before.