Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Nina Davenport Chronicles Her Decision to Have a Baby on Her Own in HBO's 'First Comes Love'

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | Indiewire July 29, 2013 at 12:47AM

When Nina Davenport, the "Operation Filmmaker" director whose new personal doc, "First Comes Love," premieres on HBO tonight at 9pm, gives birth to her son Jasper at age 41, she does so surrounded by an amusingly large group of friends, including the father of the baby. "I didn't expect the hospital to let so many people into the delivery room," she observes dryly in voiceover. What she isn't accompanied by is a husband.
6
'First Comes Love'
HBO 'First Comes Love'

When Nina Davenport, the "Operation Filmmaker" director whose new personal doc, "First Comes Love," premieres on HBO tonight at 9pm, gives birth to her son Jasper at age 41, she does so surrounded by an amusingly large group of friends, including the father of the baby. "I didn't expect the hospital to let so many people into the delivery room," she observes dryly in voiceover. What she isn't accompanied by is a husband.

Davenport, finding herself single going into her 40s, decided that if she wanted to have a biological child, she wasn't going to be able to do it in the traditional fashion referenced in the title -- by meeting Mr. Right, marrying him and then getting pregnant. Instead, Davenport enlists a somewhat reluctant gay pal to donate his sperm and the support of various others in her life, including her best friend Amy, to accompany her on her journey toward being a single mother, one she chronicles on camera.

First Comes Love 2

Davenport's film is a warm, open-hearted journey that does a better job with exploring its author's experiences than those of the growing groups of single mothers of which she's a part. "First Comes Love" makes some cursory nods in that direction -- Davenport stops by the apartment of an acquaintance who's readying to learn the results of what she's decided will be her final attempt at getting pregnant, and she talks to another who had two kids on her own, ones she frazzledly attempts to manage while doing the interview.

There is a continual sense that there's a whole other doc that could be made about the larger phenomenon of single women, particularly in New York, who due to dating difficulties, commitment-phobia, a focus on career or a whole host of other reasons find themselves approaching the end of their childbearing years without a standard structure in place to have a child. A visit to the doctor with a single, pregnant friend suggests how increasingly common her situation is becoming, but raises many questions -- including ones about economics and work -- the film doesn't attempt to explore.

Instead, for the most part, Davenport keeps the camera on her own path, and it's plenty to fuel a film, as she looks at her wealthier siblings and their nuclear families, at footage of her mother, who passed away, and her old school father, who isn't shy about expressing his feelings that Davenport is making a mistake in going into parenthood alone, and who often is shown in shots with a newspaper up in front of his face. (At one point, he advises her to get an abortion, though when his grandson does arrives, he's charmed.) The Midwestern childhood home she travels back to, the siblings with their beautiful houses and law careers, stand in contrast to the more bohemian life she has in New York, the one-bedroom apartment with the crumbling ceiling and the host of supportive friends.

First Comes Love 3

"First Comes Love" ends up making a powerful case for families of choice -- not as opposed to traditional ones necessarily, but certain in addition to. When Davenport comes home from the hospital with Jasper, Amy, Eric (the biological father) and another friend end up crashing at her apartment to help her through the first few days.

Film critic John Anderson, whom Davenport starts dating after she gets pregnant, also becomes a passing father figure for Jasper, though he and the filmmaker end up having a discussion about the side effects of all these people coming through her child's life and about who he's supposed to count on sticking around as he gets older when the ties are more tenuous and roles less clearly definied. Both Amy and Eric, interestingly, attempt to set boundaries with Davenport early in the film, stressing that they can't be expected to always be there for her and Jasper, though they get pulled into the experience more, it seems, than they ever planned.

That messiness is actually kind of wonderful -- the sense that even as Davenport plunges into this experience without the structures in place that her father insists she needs, new supports arise to help her along. The imperfection of it, the unsteadiness is what gives the film a sense of tremulous vulnerability -- she is no more certain of how this will work than anyone else in her life, and lets us see how terrified and thrilled by the giant shift in her life she is. It's not your typical romance, but it is a film about a different sort of falling in love, and it's a trip worth taking with the filmmaker.

This article is related to: Television, TV Reviews, HBO , First Comes Love , Nina Davenport






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More