MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Unexpected’ Is A Wonderfully Simple Indie Gem

Film: Unexpected
Starring: Cobie Smulders, Gail Bean
Directed by: Kris Swanberg

Unless you’re planning for it, the news that you’re about to have a baby can be both an exciting and terrifying experience in someone’s life. For Samantha Abbott (Cobie Smulders), there was probably no good time for the news that she would soon give birth to her first child to arrive. It’s not that she never wanted children, but she always planned to have them at some unknown point in the future when her life was a bit more settled. Unfortunately for Samantha, life rarely cares about the plans we make.

Forced to face the news she and her longtime boyfriend (Anders Holm) will soon be having their first child, Samantha immediately begins taking steps to create a better life for her unborn baby, but soon is struck by surprise once more when she learns that the school, where she works as a science teacher, will soon be closing its doors. With a due date in early August, the chances of finding a new career in education before the baby arrives seems unlikely, and suddenly Samantha begins to realize just how life-changing the process of having a child will be for her and the world she’s spent three decades piecing together. Still, she’s determined to see it through.

At the same time this is happening, a senior at Samantha’s school named Jasmine (Gail Bean) discovers she too is pregnant. Her circumstances are nothing like those surrounding Samantha, but still the two find a way to forge a unique bond that each desperately needs. Though they appear different at first, they soon learn they have both found themselves in an unexpected situation that will greatly impact every future decision they make and it scares them both in equal measure. For Samantha, raising a child seems to mean giving up her professional goals right as things were starting to come together. For Jasmine, the arrival of her child signifies the end of childhood, as well as a farewell to any hope for becoming what she believes to be a typical college student. Neither believes the fate of the other is sealed, but they need one another to understand the same endless possibilities for happiness also apply to their own journey.

What filmmaker Kris Swanberg has accomplished with Unexpected is something far greater than the film’s thin premise may lead you to believe. By showcasing the similarities and differences between the lives of her two main characters, Swanberg is able to paint a wonderfully complex tapestry depicting modern motherhood as we have never seen it presented before. Even better, she does so while also delivering a fair share of laughs and memorable moments, thanks in part to an incredibly strong cast. This is a movie about pregnancy, yes, but it’s also something much, much more. This is the human experience, complete with all the hilarity, heartache, pain and inexplicable twists of fate that we each encounter as we move from day to day. Everyone involved in this project seems to genuinely believe in the quality of their work, and I see no reason to believe anyone who sees the final product will disagree.


Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell
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2 Responses to “MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Unexpected’ Is A Wonderfully Simple Indie Gem”

  1. lisa.woodbur says:


  2. Thomas Watson says:

    The film undercuts its own aims to speak across racial and class
    barriers by focusing so heavily on Samantha, whose woes are fairly
    familiar, and so scantly on Jasmine, whose struggles are both
    underrepresented and actually urgent.