Natural sunlight gleams into the living room. The room is filled with men and women all sitting in a circle, and their attention is on the woman of the hour, Deb, as she gleefully opens presents at her baby shower. The friends make jokes, and laughter fills the room. Then, it is-the-soon to be father’s turn to give his gift. With the help of the other guests, he drags a tall wooden box into the living room as Deb watches hesitantly. When the side of the box is removed, a small inflatable pool bounces out. The future father, Silvio, happily shouts, “Home Birth Time!” The room fills with awkward wows to fill the silence as Deb's mouth hangs open in astonishment and shock.
There are no more jokes, no more laughter, and the sunshine that previously filled the room appears dimmer. It is clear to everyone but Silvio that she does not want a home birth. The cringing expressions of the guests are comical; however, an air of discomfort still looms over this scene.
DOULA Plays on Uncomfortable Situations
The story of Deb’s new life opens with the death of her doula, a companion during pregnancy named Penka. Out of pity, Deb’s boyfriend hires Penka’s son as their new doula. The film follows Deb in her day-to-day life, which revolves around her pregnancy. She does her best to navigate through tasks such as visiting a doctor, attending future mother classes, and hiring a doula.
Doula focuses on the emotional toll a pregnancy can have on a first-time mother like Deb. With a lack of an emotional outlet, her relationships are affected as she struggles to bond with other moms, returning their inquisitive questions with blank stares and distant answers. We watch Deb weep in her car as it rains. She turns her face away from her doula, Sascha. She attempts to hide the frustration she feels at not being able to practice her passion, basketball, due to her pregnancy. Deb and her boyfriend argue repeatedly in private, unaware that their attempts to make everything appear normal are failing, since their doula is always in earshot of their accusatory tones. The characters’ persistence to continue on in uncomfortable situations like nothing is wrong when it is clear there is a problem adds humor to the movie, although the feeling of discomfort lingers.
Doula’s intentionally awkward humor combined with serious moments might not suit all people and it is not a family-friendly film. However, it has its audience in those who enjoy blue or dark humor.
Troian Bellisario as Deb
Arron Shiver as Silvio
Will Greenberg as Sascha
Chris Pine as Deb’s doctor
Cheryl Baker as Penka
Director: Cheryl Nichols
Production Designer: Victoria Foraker
Set Decorator: Helen Morales
Costume Designer: Jamie Catino