Writer-director Jeremy Hersh conjures a timely ethical drama with vibrant millennial energy in The Surrogate. Star and lead actress Jasmine Batchelor plays the over accommodating, Brooklynite, web designer Jess whose life is completely changed when she is enlisted as a surrogate mother for her two best gay male friends, Josh and Aaron (Chris Perfetti and Sullivan Jones). Despite her skeptical family, the three enter the engagement free of formal contracts and with good will and Jess’s acquiescence as their only collateral. The unexpected questions that the triad is forced to ask and answer during the pregnancy completely rupture her accommodating malaise as well as their family plans. The friction is ratcheted up throughout, while maintaining a rigorous authenticity, as Jess begins to feel the outlines of her own autonomy. When a diagnosis brings their different points of view into acute disharmony, she has no other choice than to draw into her own power even if it diverges plans further and shatters the comfort she so carefully constructs for those around her. With Hersh’s cleverness and subtlety and Batchelor’s incredibly nuanced performance, the film is able to draw in more looming questions – those of race, class, ability, and privilege – as well as render the personal story with crystalline clarity. With consistent elements of surprise and a resonance to our cultural moment, this whip-smart film with an airtight script walks the line perfectly between character study and moral quandary. There are no comfort zones intact at the close.
– Ashley Hoyle