Going through pregnancy can be one of the most stressful times in a woman’s life just from the sheer effort of making sure both she and the baby make it through healthy. Support is crucial during that time, and a lack of it has the possibility of leading a woman down some dark roads, a theme that can be seen in the new A24/Hulu drama, False Positive.
Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and Adrian (Justin Theroux) have been trying to get pregnant for two years without success. Though she’s resistant to artificial means, Lucy agrees to see Dr. John Hindle (Pierce Brosnan), one of their city’s best fertility specialists and Adrian’s old medical school professor. Sure enough, using a proprietary method, Dr. Hindle is able to facilitate Lucy and Adrian getting pregnant after just one try.
Soon, though, Lucy starts experiencing weird thoughts and hallucinations, something others chalk up to so-called “mommy brain,” but which feel very real to her. As the months roll by, Lucy feels increasingly distant from and suspicious of Adrian and Dr. Hindle, relying more on her also-expecting friend Corgan (Sophia Bush) and contemplating going with a midwife for her birth plan.
Right from the beginning, the film — written by Glazer and John Lee and directed by Lee — gives off a creepy vibe. Even when things are relatively normal, the filmmakers employ the use of ominous music and a certain vibe to tell the audience that something is off. However, the story has a very slow burn, as they take a long time revealing anything at all. It’s so slow, in fact, that it’s fair to wonder if anything in the movie is real or if we’re being gaslit right alongside Lucy.
Some answers eventually do come to light, but they’re filmed in such an odd, haphazard way that it’s never entirely clear if the events are actually happening or not. And because the tone of the film never gets settled, it’s also unclear if Glazer and Lee are trying to make a straight-up thriller, or if they’re trying to deliver a message about how women are often mishandled during pregnancy through the guise of a suspense movie.
Glazer, previously best known for the sketch comedy series Broad City, does well in her first dramatic role, although she and Theroux display very little chemistry together. Brosnan is ideal casting for a role that requires charm and menace in equal parts, and he’s aided by Gretchen Mol playing the lead nurse, a character willing to defend her boss at all costs.
False Positive is not the type of movie anyone who’s pregnant or trying to get pregnant may want to watch, as it does nothing to ease an already anxious mind. While the performances mostly work, the story as a whole is so plodding and muddled that the point of the film gets lost along the way.
False Positive is now streaming exclusively on Hulu.