Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
What does the Bible teach about abortion? Pro-life or pro-choice? Answer
JUSTIFIED?—Is abortion justifiable in cases of rape or incest? Answer
See: Personal stories about abortion, including those involving rape
JUSTIFIED?—“Is abortion justifiable when the child is unwanted? Doesn’t unwantedness lead to child abuse?” Answer
NOT HUMAN?—“Is the unborn human less than human at any stage?” Answer
“Doesn’t a woman have the right to control her own body?” Answer
“Is it true that “No one knows when life begins”?” Answer
ALL OF MY FRIENDS ARE PRO-CHOICE—When I bring religion into the argument they disregard me. They are all atheists. How can I get through to them that the abortion issue is black and white? Murder is murder. Answer
What kind of world would you create? Answer
|Featuring:||Imelda Staunton, Philip Davis, Peter Wight, Adrian Scarborough, Heather Craney|
|Producer:||Simon Channing-Williams, Simon Williams, Alain Sarde|
|Distributor:||Fine Line Features|
Wife. Mother. Criminal.
It has been a long, rather arduous journey through this year’s Oscar nominated films. There have been a few light-hearted films in the mix, but for the most part it has been an emotionally exhausting trek. So, as I got to the theater to see “Vera Drake,” the final film on the list of nominees I needed to see, I fully expected to have my emotions wrenched like a pretzel. “Vera Drake” is a controversial film that tackles a topic that has divided many on either side of the political or religious aisle.
We meet Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) at the beginning of the film. She is a plain, simple woman who works as a housekeeper, dusting and cleaning homes of people far more wealthy than she. She cares deeply for others, and goes to help sick friends and family whenever she has a spare minute. She is someone who takes on other people’s woes as her obligation to fix, and goes about it without complaints. She hums and sings as regularly as she smiles, and is clearly happy with her simple life. Her home life is also running on all cylinders; she receives great support and love from her husband Stan (Phil Davis), and from her children Ethel (Alex Kelly) and Sid (Daniel Mays).
However, Vera has a secret that only she and her hard-nosed friend Lily (Ruth Sheen) are aware of. For over twenty years, Lily has been arranging meetings with girls and women who have found themselves pregnant and feel they cannot have the baby. She sends them to Vera, who performs a simple little procedure to “get things right as rain again”, i.e. abortion. Vera doesn’t charge the girls, and does it because she truly feels that she is helping them, and sees nothing wrong with her actions. When one of the girls nearly dies from the procedure, Vera is arrested, and must face the consequences, with the law, and with her family.
Abortion has been debated for years by people who are either strongly opposed to it, strongly in favor of it, or straddle the fence, because they don’t want to offend anyone. Many Christians fall into the latter group, not wanting to seem narrow-minded by their “open minded” friends. Others wear their opinions and feelings on their sleeves, not caring who hears or what they may think. If any Christian out there reading this review doesn’t know where they stand on the issue, let me simply state a verse that I feel says everything we need to know about the issue. Exodus 20:13 says “You shall not murder”. Abortion is the murder of an unborn child; there isn’t really any way around that. The verse doesn’t gives us any exceptions to when it would be alright to murder, no asterisk saying *unless a girl is raped and cannot see herself having the child, or *except for a case of incest.
“Vera Drake” also contains a subplot about a family friend, who is raped, and goes through the legal process of obtaining an abortion, and has to pay a great deal of money for it. The movie makes the case that people with money can afford abortion, or any other operation or procedure they may need, and it is legal, while at the same time, it is illegal for those less fortunate [see our on-line responses: re: rape/incest cases and poor vs. rich].
Some who see this film will say that director Mike Leigh has created a film to subtly work his pro-choice beliefs into our minds. I would be inclined to agree to some extent, but to me, the movie is more about the characters than it is about the idea of abortion. I was fascinated by the character of Vera Drake, who we learn a great deal about, including a reason she may feel so inclined to help the girls. As I watched the film, I couldn’t help but notice that no mention of God is ever made; no one ever asks Vera if what she does is morally wrong.
She knows it is illegal to perform the abortions, but doesn’t see anything wrong with the procedure, because she doesn’t seem to have any religious background to speak of. So, of course she is going to want to help the girls; people who commit sin often do so because they don’t have the moral conscience that comes with either knowing God or at least knowing about Him. I know little about 1950s England, but I suppose it is conceivable that someone could have lived their life without many Christian influences guiding their ways. This, at least, may help explain why she truly believes she is helping the girls out.
The content of the film itself is mild. There is a tiny dab of language here and there, but nothing worth note. We do see the beginning of a rape scene, but don’t see anything graphic. We see Vera perform a few of the procedures, which consist of sticking a syringe inside the women, and filling them with the liquid that will terminate the pregnancy. Some may find these scenes rater disturbing.
“Vera Drake” is not for everyone. The topic will keep many away, and the thick accents and slow pacing will keep more from seeing it. Most who do see the film will do so because of the performances. Staunton is remarkable as Drake, and the supporting cast also turns in moving, heartfelt performances. As a character study and a look into the life of someone spiritually lost who hasn’t been exposed to a better life in Christ, “Vera Drake” is a fascinating film. But, if you are looking for a film that takes a stand one way or the other about abortion, you are bound to be disappointed, one way or the other.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Mild
Year of Release—2004
See list of Relevant Issues.