Evidently Jay Rosenblatt is the most prolific maker of short films of all time or something, because I seem to come across as many short films by him as everyone else combined.
He has not developed into a favorite of mine, but I do typically enjoy his work. His films generally rank somewhere around the middle of the short films I’ve written about so far. The 24 minute film A Pregnant Moment fits squarely in that range—decent, but not near the top of my favorites.
The film is a sort of video diary starting with a couple caring for their pregnant dog, and then proceeding through the birth of the puppies, their early upbringing, and people adopting them and taking them away.
It appears to be almost all footage the couple shot themselves. It very much has the feel of home movies, and not even very good home movies. Just a couple playfully aiming the camera at each other and the dogs, and ad libbing what they can, with weak audio, poor lighting, the shaky effects of a handheld camera, shots that are too close up or miss people, etc.
In some ways that makes it a little less rewarding to watch, and in some ways it gives it a kind of warmth.
Actually what it put me in mind of is the myriad of real life possibilities for the kind of personal history filmmaking I like to do. For some of my projects I can shoot interviews and other footage of my own of people, but another thing I can do is take existing footage people shot themselves and create something out of it. Though people tend to think of such projects in connection with, say, an elderly person doing their memoirs on video, this is a great example of how it really can be any slice of life that has some emotional heft.
If there’s something significant to you like this going on in your life, and you have a camcorder and you shoot what footage you can of it, I bet there’s a way through editing to make a pretty cool story out of it.
That realism is what appealed to me about this film. I get the impression these are real life friends of the filmmaker that informally shot a few hours of footage related to their dog over the course of several months, and turned it over to Rosenblatt. Thinking of it as something genuine in real people’s lives like that makes the technical flaws a lot more tolerable.
So I’d be disappointed—and I don’t know for a fact it’s not the case—if these are really actors, or the whole thing was staged, or Rosenblatt purposely shot it in faux amateur style for some artistic reason, etc.
But in general, it’s mildly interesting to follow. The puppies are cute. The birth and such is predictably gross (and it’s equally predictable that the woman will coo over it—“Oh look, there’s mucus hanging from her vagina!”)
They seem like good people. The woman has an emotional style that to some extent I admire because she seems very positive and caring, but that also can annoy me if it hits me the wrong way. Like her cutesy insistence on attributing human qualities and emotions to the dog, or her weeping when people adopt a puppy because she can somehow intuit that they’re not good people and won’t give it a good home. (Not that she believes that for a second, but it obligates her husband/boyfriend to go through the ritual of assuring her that no, no, they’re fine people and the puppy will be very well cared for, etc., to placate her when her irrational emotions take over.)
Actually maybe I shouldn’t say I’d admire the film less if I found out these aren’t real people. If these are actors, they’re extraordinarily good actors, since all the intangibles are exactly what they should be for these to be ordinary folks with no experience on either side of the camera. So in that sense it would be a lot more impressive if this were all staged.
A Pregnant Moment is a sweet enough and insightful enough vignette about the bond between people and a pet to be worth a mild recommendation.