Like some kind of movie-making magicians, those responsible for "Unborn in the USA" have pulled off quite a remarkable feat of documentary legerdemain. Though obviously pro-choice themselves, instead of launching a diatribe against the pro-life movement, they have allowed those on the other side to speak for themselves in their own words. The result is that the pro-lifers are not reduced to the simpleminded caricatures we so often encounter in media portrayals of them (think of that sweet but rather pathetic and utterly befuddled anti-abortion protester standing all by herself outside the clinic in "Juno"). Indeed, virtually every person interviewed for the film falls on the pro-life side of the issue and most of them come across as decent, well-intentioned individuals who are willing to put themselves on the line for a cause that means so much to them personally.
Somehow, directors Stephen Fell and Will Thompson were able to gain remarkable insider access to some of the key players in the pro-life movement, including Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based Christian organization that, among other things, trains college students to go forth and spread the pro-life gospel (this is the aspect of FOTF's ministry on which the movie primarily focuses). Even when the filmmakers interview a member of a group like the Army of God - an organization dedicated to eradicating abortion through any means possible, including violence against clinics and abortion doctors - the directors make sure to counter them with people on the pro-life side who vehemently condemn those actions. The movie also features women who have had abortions and now go around the country voicing their regret.
In fact, so potent and powerful are the images that one begins to wonder if the movie might not in actuality be a product of the pro-life movement sent out as a kind of Trojan Horse to lure the unwary to their side. Indeed, the filmmakers stay almost entirely offstage in this film, voicing their own pro-choice opinions only in the title cards that are frequently interspersed between interviews.
"Unborn in the USA" functions almost like a Rorschach-blot test for pro-lifers and pro-choicers, since viewers on both sides of the issue may be able to project their own beliefs onto the movie and have them reaffirmed by what they witness here. It's a tricky gamble Fell and Thompson have taken with their approach, but the result is a thought-provoking and challenging movie that definitely cries out to be seen.
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