Virtually no one is ambivalent about abortion; the issue polarizes people like no other. HBO tackles the subject head-on with a trilogy of shorts, and, regardless of your opinion on the topic, If These Walls Could Talk is a bold and provocative examination of how the laws and attitudes about abortion in the United States have both changed drastically and remained so much the same.
Three women, three time periods, one house: each finds herself in trouble and must face the overwhelming decision about what to do with the unwanted pregnancy. The first segment is the most powerful, featuring Demi Moore as a young, recently widowed nurse in 1952. With no one to turn to and limited financial means, her options are few. Catherine Keener costars as her harshly judgmental sister-in-law. The next piece occurs in 1974, as Sissy Spacek, a mother of four who is trying to earn a college degree, discovers she's pregnant with her fifth child. Her utterly modern feminist daughter encourages Spacek to get a newly legal abortion, but it's a complex decision. In the final segment, college student Anne Heche becomes pregnant by her married professor. Her best friend, played by Jada Pinkett, is resolutely against abortion and the two wrangle over right and wrong. As the young woman tries to learn about her options, she finds herself enmeshed in the pro-life demonstrations outside the abortion clinic. Cher, who directs this segment (the other two are directed by Nancy Savoca), costars as a doctor at the clinic.
While trying to be evenhanded and demonstrating the different choices different women make, the film does have a decidedly pro-choice leaning. Yet the power of the movie is undeniable and it raises significant questions on both sides of the abortion debate, making it an important film for women (and men) everywhere to watch and talk about. --Jenny Brown
Top Customer Reviews
The setting of all three segments is in a single house. This masterful production/directorial technique seems to be symbolic for an issue which has always been controversial to many. As the house becomes more and more dilapidated over each segment, we also see that the right to abortion is becoming a compoundingly fragile right that could be taken away at any time. Instead of gaining strength over time, the volatile issue is subject to the demands of the political party in command.
The dynamics of the eras are reflected so realistically in each segment, that a viewer cannot help but to be actively drawn into the drama. The segments feature all-star casts including such heavy hitters as Demi Moore, Sissy Spacek, Cher, Anne Heche, and Jada Pinkett. Cher deserves special attention for both directing and acting in the excellent third segment.
Rather than pro-choice, I think the video challenges us to think, "What if there were no choice?" This is recommended viewing for women and men alike, and this movie will stay in your thoughts for a long time to come.
Concerning the actual acting and direction, it was superb. Cher's acting has never been better, and Demi Moore was also phenomenal. The structure of the film, which is divided into three sections (one in the 50s, one in the 70s, and one in the 90s) was really engaging. One house is the setting for most of the movie. As the times change and tenants move, different women who live in the house become the focus of the movie. This movie was entertaining and it even taught me something. If you are interested in learning more about abortions before the Roe vs. Wade decision, I recommend the novel The Cider House Rules.
The three stories are set in 1952, 1974 and 1996 and star Demi Moore, Sissy Spacek and Cher, respectively. Never a fan of Moore, I purposely avoided this until recently and upon watching it, was surprised to find hers perhaps the best performance of the trio, although it probably bears mentioning her character also had the best story with which to work. She's a widowed nurse who accidentally finds herself 'in the family way' in the months following her husband's tragic death. Desperate to terminate the pregnancy and not disgrace herself or her in-laws who are still providing for her out of obligation, she ultimately suffers the dire consequences of her actions and choices.
The wonderful Spacek is unfortunately handed the short stick as her tale is not too engrossing. She's a harried housewife, mother of four and part-time college student ready to start a new self-fulfilling chapter of her life until she learns she's expecting. This is the weakest of the trilogy.
In the last segment, college co-ed Anne Hache gets knocked up by her married professor and seeks support from judgmental roommate Jada Pinkett before venturing to the abortion clinic run by Cher (whose directorial duties in this one likely limited her screen time'but she's terrific in the brief scenes she is in). Diana Scarwid ('Mommie Dearest') also deserves praise for a sensitive portrayal that turns intense in the bloody finale.
Well worth a look, no matter where you stand on the issue. FOUR STARS
Anyone who finds this film balanced has to be so far removed from reality that the STAR WARS films could be considered documentaries for NASA.
To be perfectly honest, I've stayed out of the abortion debate and rarely offer any opinion, but films like this annoy for their arrogance and, yes, condescension for their "enemies." Go ahead and have a deranged religious fanatic make a martyr out of the abortion doctor--but show us what that abortion doctor does as well. Once the audience sees what happens in a clinic, they could understand how wackos can resort to violence.
Bold? Hardly. Provocative? Not this time.
The drama was tossed aside for a political speech.
The biggest problem I have with the film is that young women will watch it as a "educational" film when it barely qualifies as "entertainment."
Most recent customer reviews
When this film was first broadcast on HBO back in 1996, I found it quite compelling. Yes, it had its less than subtle moments, but for a made-for-cable movie, it was pretty darn... Read morePublished on March 28 2004 by Gregor von Kallahann
Abortionï¿½s current sound bite nature means that both sides of the debate forget the women wanting control of their own bodies--and lives. Read morePublished on Feb. 10 2004 by Robin Orlowski
wow, this movie was so incredibly powerful! Beware it might scare you and make you cry, but how amazing is it to have a handful of excellent actors doing a small feature film... Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2004
This movie is about unwanted pregnancies and the issue of abortion. One in the 1950s, 1970s and 1990s. All affect people that live in the same house. Read morePublished on June 14 2003 by atmj
It does not matter whether you are Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, this film is excellent & compelling in so many directions. Read morePublished on June 7 2003
This is a movie for everyone... no matter what you beleive in!*
It shows "everyone's side"... for the good & - or bad. (You can decide which is what for you alone. Read more
I will never in this lifetime understand why any mother would believe that killing her own child would be in anyone's best interests (including her own). Read morePublished on May 4 2003 by Liz
Just for once would I like to see a movie that didn't resort to high drama to show the viewer their political idealogies. Read morePublished on Nov. 2 2002