Private Life: A Very Personal Film

Kayli Carter, Kathryn Hahn, and Paul Giamatti in Private Life. Photo credit: Jojo Whilden/Netflix.

Netflix brought Private Life to the Sundance Film Festival for its world premiere and while it is a very personal film that gets into what people go through for the IVF process, it isn’t one that will appeal to everyone.

Kathryn Hahn has been a versatile comedic performer for years but writer-director Tamara Jenkins has written a role for the actress that gives us an emotional but strong performance as Rachel Biegler. Rachel has been struggling to have kids of her own and with her husband, Richard Grimes (Paul Giamatti), they’ve resorted to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in the hopes of having kids. Rachel wants to have what any woman dreams of having: her own children. Unfortunately, fate has other things for store and it’s just not meant to be. At least, not right now. 

Rachel is reluctant to have an egg donor because she wants to have her own biological children with her husband. Nobody can blame her for wanting children. Rachel’s feelings on having an egg donor comes down to having the feeling of being “left out” of the genetics. The two of them search through a website for potential birth mothers, or as it’s better referred to, “eBay for Ova.”

For my full review, please click here.


Months later, some of the thoughts I have from the review still stick with me and then some.  In re-reading my review, maybe I was a bit harsh to begin with.  It was a very long day with flying out to Sundance in the morning.  The story deals with a woman who struggles to get pregnant and undergoes IVF.  I know many women with fertility problems so this story that will no doubt resonate with them.  I think I was probably a bit selfish and thinking more of myself when writing my review because of this dysphoria that it triggered.

It was through this transgender lens in which I viewed the film.  Maybe it wasn’t fair of me–I don’t know–but it did cause a trigger on this end.  To my trans readers, I do urge caution in viewing the film if you think it will be a trigger.  I know that I had to keep things very much together over the weekend after watching the film!

There’s a line about Kayli Carter’s character, Sadie, having a BA in cinema studies and not being able to get a job.  This is a line that can only draw huge laughs in a press and industry screening while not getting the same laughter in another audience.

Carter is phenomenal in her performance.  She’s been on my short list for supporting actress since watching the film during Sundance.  We’ve seen what Netflix was able to do last year with awards nominations but who knows what will happen this next year.

DIRECTOR:  Tamara Jenkins
SCREENWRITERS:  Tamara Jenkins
CAST:  Kathryn Hahn, Paul Giamatti, Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon, John Carroll Lynch, Desmin Borges, and Denis O’Hare

Netflix released Private Life on October 5, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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