A Private Matter

(Joan Micklin Silver, USA, 1992)


Although the video for A Private Matter is a little reticent about printing the word abortion on its cover, this is indeed the subject of Joan Micklin Silver's riveting social issue telemovie.

It tells a true story from 1962, when a children's TV host (Sissy Spacek) learns that the child she is carrying may be a thalidomide victim. To the consternation first of her neighbours and then of the entire country, she seeks a legitimate medical termination.

The sexual politics of the tale are grim and confronting. At every turn, Spacek finds her destiny taken out of her hands and ruled on by cold, disapproving men in positions of power and authority. Aidan Quinn is well cast as her largely insensitive husband, by turns sinisterly malevolent and hopelessly boyish.

At a time when it has become de rigueur for conservative commentators to scorn "fashionable feminism", this film makes its case against patriarchy with a chilling persuasiveness.

MORE Silver: Stepkids

© Adrian Martin August 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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