A story of one beautiful life digs deeper than cultural issues and reveals the heart
What if a single revelation turned your comfortable world upside down and left you wondering who you really were. This is the emotional roller coaster ride Hannah Lawson (played by Rachel Hendrix) finds herself on in October Baby.
Hannah is a lovely, vibrant college freshman full of dreams and potential. She was raised in a stable, Christian home by a loving mom and dad (Jennifer Price and The Dukes of Hazzard’s John Schneider). Throughout her growing up, Hannah dealt with various health struggles, but when she collapses with a seizure onstage during a college theatre production, she begins to look for answers. Her parents finally tell her that she was adopted after her birth mother tried to abort her. She survived the failed abortion but will struggle with certain health issues for the rest of her life.
This discovery leaves Hannah with only more questions. Her first response is anger. Anger at her birth mother for not wanting her. Anger at her parents for hiding her adoption so long. Anger at herself for feeling angry. She wants to know who her birth mother is. But most of all, she wants to find her own identity in the confusion that is her past.
Wanting to help, her childhood best friend Jason (played by Jason Burkey) invites Hannah on a road trip over spring break with a motley bunch of college friends, headed by American Idol finalist Chris Sligh. Along the way they will stop in Mobile, Alabama, the city where Hannah was born. Grasping at anything to fill the gaps in her identity, Hannah agrees to go on the trip against her parents’ wishes.
The trip proves an adventure for naïve Hannah. Despite getting into a few scrapes along the way, she eventually locates her birth mother, only to be rejected a second time by the woman who tried to abort her. More conflicted and brokenhearted than ever, Hannah returns home.
The spontaneous spring break adventure didn’t provide the answers she craved. Meeting her birth mother didn’t afford the healing she expected. Her return home brings tension between her and her parents.
October Baby tells an emotionally charged story. Hendrix portrays the heroine with a depth that would cause any viewer to sympathize with her plight. And the Erwin brothers (The Cross and the Towers and The Mysterious Islands) direct the project with an eye for emotive facial expressions and striking camera work. Their extensive background in directing music videos shows in their artful use of music montages throughout, featuring artists like Steve Moekler, Mandi Mapes, and Andrew Belle. The overall professional production quality of October Baby draws viewers into the story and allows them to forget that it is an independent Christian film.
The message is delivered just as professionally as the rest of the film. Though it addresses abortion, October Baby is able to handle the controversial topic professionally and delicately because it is not an issue-driven film. It is a character-driven film in which abortion is only one facet.
That said, October Baby does take a stand for life without a shadow of ambiguity. And it does so without anyone climbing on a soapbox waving a picket sign. It doesn’t waste time pointing fingers. It simply tells the story of one beautiful life and reminds us of Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Even though it takes a stand against abortion, October Baby presents a loving case and is sensitive to women who have already had abortions. Shari Rigby, the actress who plays Hannah’s birth mother is a good example. When the Erwin brothers gave her the script for October Baby and asked her to play the part, they had no idea that years ago she had secretly had an abortion. She had been on her own journey of emotional recovery ever since. Working in October Baby brought her more healing and an opportunity to show the pain that comes from abortion. Watch her story here.
October Baby, however, isn’t about abortion. It’s not about adoption either.
It’s about the heart.
Hannah discovers that her identity isn’t hidden in the answers to the questions of her past but in the life God has given her today. She realizes that her own healing won’t be found on a rowdy road trip but in her ability to forgive those who have wronged her. She learns to trust the friendship of Jason, a friend who loves at all times, even in Hannah’s most broken moments. She learns to love and respect the parents God has given her and finally thanks them for “wanting” her.
October Baby is a beautiful picture of steadfast relationships that go beyond blood, forgiveness that bridges broken pasts and whole futures, and the sanctity of every human life. Both Christian and non-Christian moviegoers will come away uplifted. Go support October Baby on March 23rd.
- Grace D. Williamson