Year:  2020

Director:  Morgan Ingari

Rated:  15+

Release:  February 18 – March 4, 2021

Running time: 101 minutes

Worth: $17.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Cast:
Molly Bernard, Patrick Breen, Robin de Jesus, Ava Eisenson, Ade Otukoya

Intro:
...a heartfelt and comforting film about the complexities of friendship, identity and life in general.

As friends move away, get married and have children, it can be difficult for those singletons who are left. There’s a feeling of not being relevant anymore and outcast to the dark sea of singledom. It’s a common enough feeling for a lot of people. Particularly Milo, the protagonist of Morgan Ingari’s directorial debut, Milkwater.

Played by Molly Bernard (Younger), New Yorker Milo is finding her life becoming rudderless. Her lawyer friend, Noor (Ava Eisenson) is married to the straight-laced KJ (Jess Stark) with whom she is expecting their first child. Meanwhile, her roommate George (Robin de Jesus) is taking the first fledgling steps into a promising relationship with Teddy (Michael J. Berry). A chance encounter with a 52-year-old drag performer, Roger (Patrick Breen), leads to Milo offering herself up as a surrogate mother.

With such a premise, Milkwood could have ended up a candy-coated, Judd Apatow-esque comedy about a straight gal and a gay guy sticking it to the bourgeoisie of traditional parenthood. However, Milkwood is much more intelligent than that. As a society, we’ve become used to non-traditional family dynamics and pretending that these kinds of situations don’t happen is absurd. Look to Sebastián Silva’s blackly comic Nasty Baby for a further example. What Ingari does then is dissect what it means to be a surrogate and explore the ramifications of that decision.

Milo’s decision to have a baby for Roger is impulsive. Having expressed his sadness at not being able to adopt, Milo rocks up a few days later with whiskey and several Pornhub tabs open to get the job done. Roger, for his part, joyfully overwhelmed at the possibility of fatherhood, jumps in feet first and soon the two have to deal with the reality of what they’ve done.

Both Milo and Roger are flawed human beings, trying desperately to find relevance in their lives again. This means that they can’t often see the wood for the trees and Ingari makes no qualms about making them less than perfect. Milo is bull-headed in her approach, and it’s hard to shake the fact that her actions come from more than just losing friends.

As the only straight character in the film, Milo has surrounded herself with friends from the LGBTQIA+ community. As they drift away, there’s a sense of resentment from Milo as she feels that she’s losing her status as token straight friend. In a particularly tense moment with Noor, our hero tries to reposition herself as a bastion of hope for the queer community. She is fertile, and if anything, the community should be thankful. It’s a dick move that is called out for being exactly what it is. Additionally, Milo paints herself as a future fun aunt to Roger’s child without considering if she will even have a part in the baby’s life.

Roger can’t escape his impulsiveness either. Initially drunk on the prospect of fatherhood, he begins to view Milo as nothing more than part of a transaction, putting up barriers around his future child without considering the surrogate’s feelings.

There’s so much meat to chew on in Milkwood that some subplots get lost along the way, such as Milo’s blossoming romance with musician Cameron (Ade Otukoya). Cameron does nothing apart from being gorgeous and echoing the concerns of Milo’s friends. Similarly, the ending doesn’t quite stick as well as one would hope, compared to everything that came before it.

Overall though, Bernard’s happy go sad performance coupled with Inargi’s sharp script means Milkwood is a heartfelt and comforting film about the complexities of friendship, identity and life in general.

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