Who knew that in the last year we would get three such different–but equally poignant–stories about surrogacy? Values are questioned in Jeremy Hersh’s intimate drama, The Surrogate, while Ed Helms and Patti Harrison navigate the awkwardness of their relationship in Nikole Beckwith’s Together Together. Director Morgan Ingari balances a surprisingly emotional tale with sharp humor in Milkwater, a winning comedy with a fantastic lead performance from Molly Bernard.
Bernard plays Milo, a wandering twenty-something on the hunt for something meaningful. Milo is in that precarious state where some of your friends have grown up and fully embraced adulthood (with marriage and children) but your roommate is still looking for love on Tinder. That space is so fully realized in the opening scene where Milo attends a baby shower and spies on mommies enthusiastically playing pregnancy games with such gusto that it feels incredibly foreign to Milo’s sensibilities.
After attending a drag show, she hangs out with Roger (Patrick Breen), a gay man desperate to have a child of his own. Perhaps it’s because one of Milo’s closest friends is deep in married-with-kids bliss, she offers to be Rogers surrogate despite Roger’s hesitancy. Bernard’s Milo isn’t just looking for a connection, but a bond with deep meaning. The more Milo pushes to establish a bond with the situation she is in, the more Roger wants to set boundaries.
Bernard lures you in with her quick wit and unpredictable heart. You may remember her as the younger version of Judith Light’s character on Transparent, so you know she is capable of shaking up her character’s heartbreak, frustration, and allure. Bernard is a mixture of Ellen Greene, Carol Burnett, and Shelley Duvall–with a dash of Maria Bamford stirred in. You won’t be able to stop watching her. Robin de Jesús (who should’ve been nominated for an Oscar for The Boys in the Band–no, I will not let that go), is a gay roommate who doesn’t just offer sage advice. He challenges Milo and has a love life all his own. I could watch an entire series about his character.
Milkwater is about a young woman eager to do a selfless act even when she doesn’t know she wants to be a little bit selfish herself. There are countless books on the topic of being a parent, but you have to make your own way, and Ingari’s film–her debut–is a testament to the joyful mess that parenting can be.