British-born, New York-based film-maker Maxine Trump puts herself front and centre for this honest, heartfelt documentary about her own and other women’s decision to not have children. While no one should ever have to defend such a personal choice, Trump lays out just how she got there.
She’s not anti-child and takes delight in other people’s children, especially her nephews and nieces. Partly, what concerns her is the environmental impact of overpopulation. But she and many other women are also increasingly coming to see this as an identity in its own right; one in opposition to the natalist, reproduction-boosting society we accept as the norm. They even have their own conferences, websites and boozy meet-ups.
Even though Trump puts herself, her husband and many members of her family at the heart of the story, the end result never feels navel-gazing or narcissistic. That’s partly because she seems genuinely interested in other people’s experiences and is an empathetic interviewer, whether the subject is her own mother, a random stranger, or a young woman who, by the film’s end, still hasn’t found a doctor willing to perform the sterilisation procedure she wants after five appointments. This stands in stark contrast to one man’s experience in the film who seeks out a vasectomy and gets the surgery almost immediately.
These sexist social biases are laid bare without much fuss or hectoring, while the film builds up its polemical position with calmly reasoned reflection, pausing to meet and listen to differing positions, such as that of a woman with five children. On a cinematic level, this is tidily assembled, classical documentary-making It’s unfussy and not particularly original, but effective and user friendly, the kind of film you could show your own mother if you decided not to have children.
• To Kid Or Not to Kid is available on Amazon Prime.
Source: The Guardian