Natural_Selection_01

Natural Selection

{Natural Selection opened in Seattle Friday, 4/13, and is screening at SIFF Cinema at the Uptown through 4/19} 

Natural Selection is one of those indie-darling films I'd been mildly curious about, but avoided during SIFF because I figured it couldn't be as good as everyone said it was. People, screencap this or something right now, because I WAS WRONG. It's easy to see how this scooped up a bunch of film fest awards now that I've seen it, and am not just quietly judging it based on the reviews.  

The gist of the story is that Linda White (Rachel Harris, aka: my new favorite actress) and her husband of 25 years, Abe, have never had sex because she can't conceive — some past trauma which apparently caused Linda to be barren is alluded to, but never explored fully — and all truly faithful people know you can only have sex to procreate. Linda tries her best to be a good Christian wife, but sometimes a girl just wants some lovin', and so Abe's spurning of her advances becomes increasingly frustrating. 

Anyway, turns out that Abe's been satisfying the urge to spread his seed by visiting a sperm donation clinic weekly, which Linda accidentally discovers when he has an aneurysm during climax and slips into a coma. Though stunned by the revelation, she continues to stand by her man by convincing a clinic staffer to let her peek at the offspring list, and sets off to find Abe's one and only son, Raymond. 

Though reluctant at first, Rachel convinces Raymond (Matt O'Leary, who's totally adorable even under the terrible mullet they gave his character – also, he's like 25. GO RACHEL HARRIS!) to come back with her to grant what she thinks must be Abe's dying wish, but since this is a quirky comedy, all kinds of shit hits the fan, and that frustration I mentioned earlier — with a little help from her brother-in-law — finally drives Rachel over the edge just at the moment she's making a real connection to her awkward road trip companion. 

While the above might sound like a ridiculous romantic comedy, I assure you, it's not just that. And that's what surprised me the most about this film. While some scenes border on ridiculous (the opening could be titled "birth by lawnmower bag" for chrissakes), Harris brings such amazing heart to her character that underneath all the guffaws you see that it's really a story about Linda and her discovery about what she wants and needs. Cliche? Maybe — but with her in the lead, it sure doesn't seem that way.