Overview: From an HBO Press Release: In the 2000 HBO documentary ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID Nina Davenport drew on her job as a wedding videographer and her fraught relationship with a noncommittal boyfriend to probe her generation’s anxieties about tying the knot. Now, in this bracingly honest, often hilarious and ultimately moving film, FIRST COMES LOVE, she examines solo parenthood. Ranging from hormone injections to post-natal chaos, Davenport’s wry chronicle of her pregnancy and its aftermath studies her latest dilemma. Single and entering her 40s, Nina Davenport wonders if she should give up on finding “Mr. Right” and figure out how to have a baby on her own. Davenport also engages a host of friends to become a much-needed support system in the endeavor.
Expectations: Well, I believe I get the intent with this one; a filmmaker has the opportunity to film her journey to have a biological child via one of the least conventional methods. Along the way she will prove that as long as there is love for the child it shouldn’t matter the biological steps taken to achieve that goal. Now, it is the matter of finding out all the particulars that led Miss Davenport to single-parent motherhood at a late age. I already know that this is going to be one woman’s case history on the matter and not an examination of the many women who, for whatever reasons, seek the in vitro process. I just hope that Nina Davenport’s story is a good representative story of the process as well as interesting and entertaining one.
Gut Reaction: I really could sum up my review of this film in the one sentence following this one. For the most part this was a nicely assembled documentary but at times got a little long in the tooth. I hope my further explanation of my opinions don’t also go that route. The situation and the players were all set up nicely. The chances of Nina Davenport having a child were waning and so it was time to head in the direction she wanted life to go in. So, we get the blessings from the family and the support from friends and some reluctance from members of both parties along the way. Hey, they all get to co-star in this picture; that’s a bonus, right? But, then we get irritably sidelined by living arrangements, dating friends and small matters that make it look like this trip into motherhood is just so we can make and sell an entertaining film.
It is a journey that doesn’t seem all that surprising expect to the filmmaker. She wrestles with feelings and issues and then seems surprised, after she practically badgers others with a camera in the face, when what they are feeling and thinking are not what she wants to hear. The sperm donor is conflicted, the birth partner is conflicted, and the new boyfriend is conflicted and, sadly, that conflict helps make FIRST COMES LOVE interesting. All this and yet the main fabric of the piece still holds up – a woman feeling the need to love and nurture a child.
It doesn’t end there, though it could have. Once we see the child born, the milk expressed, the infant settled in at home and Nina’s fulfillment met this story could end. Did we really need the additional forty-five minutes? Nina needed it, evidently. She needed to chronicle what she was – a woman feeling the need to be loved and nurtured as a child.
Yes, she has daddy issues. He has said hurtful things about her life choice and she has them on film. That relationship just might be the real crux of this story. It just might be, for those who watch this documentary, the focus of most of the comments attached to this post. Yes, it is about her choice and the process and talking it out and hearing the testimony, I think, of three friends of hers that have chosen single motherhood before her. But it is also about a sense of family, the family she was born into and the family she will form with her new son Jasper.
In Conclusion: Ultimately, FIRST COMES LOVE is not a debate on whether older single women are making the wise choice to become single parents. It is about a woman and her need to love & nurture and be loved & nurtured herself.
At least that is this male’s perspective on it all. If you have the time you can get caught up in the story and the wry relationships that abound in the life of Nina and Jasper Davenport. I leave you with the airdates and the trailer.The remaining HBO airdates are 08.01 at 12:00pm, 08.07 at 10:30pm 08.10 at 5:00pm and 08.13 at 4:30pm. On HBO2 find it on 07.31 at 8:00pm, 08.15 at 9:00am & 11:00pm, 08.17 at 9:20am and 08.23 at 6:40pm and on HBOGo.