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Published March 22 2012

Review: ‘October Baby’ latest faithful film to preach greater message

“October Baby”

West Acres 14

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material

101 minutes

2½ stars out of four

FARGO – Those who’ve seen the family, faith-based films “Fireproof” and “Courageous” will recognize elements of the same in “October Baby” one of the latest films to be released by Provident Films.

But they also might sense something different this time around.

Mainly, that “October Baby,” which opens today at West Acres 14 Cinema in Fargo, feels less preachy than the former two.

Not that the Sunday-school approach hasn’t worked for Provident’s primary target audience. Though reviews of “Fireproof” from mainstream movie critics were largely negative, the film ended up as the highest-grossing independent film that year, earning over $33,000,000, along with various honors.

Despite mainstream sentiment, a sizable audience seems to await these films.

Having seen the film in a private showing last month – and its aforementioned predecessors before that – my guess is that “October Baby” will experience an even wider appeal than the other two.

Part of that may be the authenticity of the story on which the film is based, as well as its relevant themes of abortion, adoption, forgiveness and strong relationships.

While the previous two films tackle real-life situations like pornography addiction, marriage struggles, the death of a child and absence of strong fathers in today’s families, “October Baby” is based loosely on the true story of Gianna Jessen, who survived a saline-abortion attempt in the late 1970s.

The movie takes us into the life of Hannah (Rachel Hendrix), a college student who discovers she was adopted, and that some of the physical and emotional challenges she’s experienced are connected to her having survived an abortion attempt.

In attempt to answer nagging questions about her beginnings, Hannah embarks on a spring-break trip with some friends, hoping the journey will lead her to her birth mom.

During the trip, she comes into contact with the nurse (Jasmine Guy) who was present at the abortion and helps her solve some of the missing pieces.

Eventually, Hannah finds her birth mother, Cindy (played by North Dakota native Shari Wiedmann), who is now a successful lawyer, wife and mother of a young daughter. Though the meeting does not go as Hannah had hoped, there are opportunities for both women to heal.

Wiedmann handles one of the film’s more powerful scenes in the film; experiences a life-changing moment of healing following her brief crossing with Hannah.

An interview with Wiedmann on the movie’s website reveals that the scene wasn’t an act; she’s a post-abortive woman who was moving through real emotions while playing the role.

The abortion plotline drives the story, but the movie is about more than that as it touches on the power of forgiveness,and the need that we all have to feel loved and healed.

After watching a preview of the film several months ago, Fargo resident Penny Crowder invested in a thousand tickets to bring the movie to the area.

“Once I saw it, I realized there are many different pieces of it that would impact a lot of people,” she said, including those who’ve been adopted and have adopted children. “I’ve also known a number of women who have had abortions and have that wound, and I hope this helps them.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Roxane Salonen at (701) 241-5587