Still Wylde

By Ingrid Haas | Drama
A woman gets pregnant by her 'sometimes' boyfriend. Then nothing goes as planned.

Gertie is pregnant, and her casual maybe-boyfriend Sam is the father. The pregnancy is unexpected but the pair are excited by the possibility of starting a family. They commit themselves to the pregnancy, making a home together and preparing for the arrival of their baby.

But then life throws an unexpected wrench into the process, and soon Gertie and Sam realize that no amount of enthusiasm or commitment can prepare them for what’s next.

Written and directed by Ingrid Haas, this sharp, raw and honest dramedy offers a bright, witty but unvarnished look at experiences that are often shrouded in silence and shame for the women going through them. With its quicksilver dialogue and visual warmth, it brings levity to this story of a woman facing unexpected motherhood with hope and optimism. But it also nails the grit and anguish of a loss that many women face but don’t talk about.

The writing spans a wide swath of time, landing on key moments in the process of pregnancy: testing positive, making the decision to keep the baby and start a family, moving in together. There’s a wry affection in observing how the “big” moments of life are tinged with the absurd, like when Gertie can’t help but note that one pregnancy test costs 99 cents while another costs $50, wonders which one she should get, and then gets them all.

The juxtaposition of humor with crisis is a hallmark of the film, from the warm, sunny but naturalistic cinematography to the clever, irony-filled writing. But lead actor Ingrid Haas’s performance as Gertie perhaps embodies this tension between hilarity and heartbreak in her moving performance. Gertie’s witty, sarcastic and smart personality builds in the ability to find the sometimes mordant humor in any situation.

But she also radiates a real joy as she embraces the possibilities of motherhood, and she shares a terrific rapport with actor Barry Rothbart, who plays Sam. But when Gertie grapples with the unexpected turn of fate in the form of a miscarriage, she comes to terms with the loss with such openness, vulnerability and truthfulness that audiences cannot help but feel her grief alongside her.

The experience of miscarriage is quite common, as 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end prematurely. (The actual percentage may be higher since many miscarriages happen so early that the women may not even be aware that they’re pregnant.) Yet miscarriage is rarely discussed openly, and still less does it appear as an event or subject in popular entertainment.

“Still Wylde” takes this bewilderingly “taboo” terrain and handles it with both levity and respect, able to find the humor in difficult moments but also elucidating the knotty, tough emotions it brings out. Its ending is ultimately heartwarming and even hopeful, recognizing that Gertie’s hard-won equanimity comes from facing her experience with bravery and courage. Despite not going the way she had hoped, Gertie still honors her unique, personal experience of motherhood, and honors the love between her and her daughter.

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