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