In Ovum, the audience is quickly introduced to the wonderfully named Calpurnia Dylan, an actor who is going through the motions of frustrating auditions and occasionally dealing with stuck-up filmmakers when she isn’t running late for class.
She’s scatterbrained – for good reason – and she’s fully aware of the nonsense she experiences on a day-to-day basis. In fact, I feel confident in backing that notion that Calpurnia is much like the actor portraying her in Ovum, Sonja O’Hara. Ovum inflates and embellishes these showbiz encounters to an amusing effect. O’Hara, who wrote the screenplay and is obviously using this indie as a method to vent about her own experiences, establishes Calpurnia as the only normal person in this sea of “colourful” personalities who judge tiny mannerisms as large indicators. At one point, Clapurnia describes her community. “People in my line of work tend to be pretty dramatic.” And, how!
As a comedic piece of catharsis, Ovum hits the right notes. Even when the performances are over-the-top, they still work to successfully acknowledge the vapidness that thrives within arrogance. O’Hara is also radiant in her witty leading role. I was reminded of films like But I’m a Cheerleader and last year’s Canadian rom-com Portrait of a Serial Monogamist – that’s good company for Ovum to be in. The film’s plot about Calpurnia’s experiences with egg donation (also lifted from O’Hara’s life) gives the film its own identity, along with a solid purpose for audiences to invest in.
Ovum is an impulsive movie, which is why the film works when poking fun at pet peeves in the entertainment industry, or when it tells a story about falling in love. Unfortunately, this pace works against the film when Ovum is addressing heavier issues like mental health and infertility. That transition is possible, but it requires patience from O’Hara’s writing and Matt Ott’s direction.
Ovum may be premature, but its heart is always in the right place.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie