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'Private Life' Laughs at Infertility. Who Will Laugh Along?

I think I have a very strong sense of humor, fromJoan Rivers to Sarah Silverman; Chris Rock to Katt Williams. Slapstick. Spit-takes. Even that old joke about the aristocrats.

F or the life of me, though, I can't wrap my head around a comedy about infertility.

But, maybe it's just me.

Private Life premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2018. Starring Kathryn Hahn, Kayli Carter, and Paul Giamatti (pictured), the story begins after a couple's quest to become parents is already quite old. Molly Shannon and John Carroll Lynch round out the cast.

Variety says the film features "a comic array of intrusive humiliations" and "most of this stuff is sharply, at times squeamishly, funny, though the laughter also catches in our throats, since Private Life is built around a core of heartbreak."


Botched adoption, IVF,inappropriately peppy docs, surrogacy, medical debt, planned sex -- the gang's all here, and things that should be private rarely are.

It turns out that the script for Private Life was written by its writer-director Tamara Jenkins (below). Ms. Jenkins, 55 wrote about her own efforts to have a child. Vanity Fair called the movie "a poignant, but hilarious struggle with infertility." Was that truly her experience? She and her husband are now parents of an eight-year-old son, and her first film, The Savages, scored an Oscar nomination in 2007,

“I wasn’t young. I was suddenly confronted with the world of assisted reproduction and adoption. We were looking at international adoption, we were doing IVF. I thought, ‘There’s no fucking way I’m writing about this shit.’ But when I emerged from my own soup and looked around at all these people who were having the same fertility dramas, there was a mini-epidemic among all the people I knew.”

Helpfully, she also has said, "You start really seeing the frayed story of what infertility does to a marriage. It can destroy marriages. They have intense flareups and find some kind of calm afterwards. Ultimately, it’s very hopeful.”

I think it's important to note that men were the movie's reviewers at Variety, USA Today and Indie Wire. But then I went to where Alissa Wilkinson called Private Life "a joy to watch whether or not you’ve shared their experience."

Knowing all that, I'll watch. I'll try to be open-minded. But I know I'm not the only childless by chance NotMom not expecting to laugh much at all.

Private Life premieres on Netflix on September 21`, 2018.

(Photo Credit: Jojo Whilden/Sundance Institute)

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