Chicago director Kris Swanberg’s third film, her highest-profile effort to date, centers on two women confronting unplanned pregnancies. From the onset, she neatly distinguishes herself from her husband, Joe Swanberg, through less reliance on dialogue and more interest in race.
Cobie Smulders plays Sam, a science teacher at an inner-city school targeted for closure. It isn’t the best time to become pregnant, especially since she and her boyfriend, John (Anders Holm), have never discussed kids, but he takes it well--so well that he proposes, she accepts, and they get married. Film over.
No, not really, because then Sam discovers that top student Jasmine (Gail Bean, who works miracles with that expressive face) is also pregnant. Sam will do whatever it takes to make sure Jasmine attends college, but the grown-up has everything the teenager doesn’t, including a supportive husband.
Refreshingly, Swanberg doesn’t punish her for her advantages any more than she pities Jasmine for her disadvantages. Unexpected is of a piece with the films of Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson) and Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo) in that she dodges melodrama in favor of realistic concerns given life by the crackling chemistry between her central duo.