It's a familiar narrative: a drawn out search for identity after romantic loss --usually culminating in a restoration of identity through renewed romantic security. Obvious Child saunters into the void of romantic comedy, teasing, jeering and cherishing the comfort food of cinema. Succeeding both as a star vehicle for Jenny Slate and as a pro choice riff on the conservative topic of pregnancy in cinema.

The film starts with a joke. Goading at the notion of femininity, Donna Stern's (Jenny Slate) stand up talks about the grotesque things she finds in her pants after the day in the life of, the 'functional' sexuality of her relationship and her talking arsehole. Donna is characterised, by herself, as an endearing mixture of Woman baby and quarter life fuck-up, staying true to her created identity after her long time boyfriend dumps her and she sleeps with a man who farts in her face. After discovering she's pregnant with "Piss-Fart's" baby we track her journey over the space of two weeks before she gets an abortion.

Existing as a date night cinema framed by an abortion narrative is an audacious decision for any director, let alone debut director Gillian Robespierre. Alas, Robespierre handles the topic as well as one can expect for a comedy to handle such sensitive matter; both with finesse and ineptness -- mainly stemming from the genre conventions and the desire to make the audience laugh more than cry. A capital decision from Robespierre is to let the topic of abortion sit passenger side, becoming a casual topic of conversation for women she encounters, careless of age, sex, religion and race; abortion frames the narrative but doesn't dictate it -- its casual nature gives detailed insight and acts as the impetus for some of the funnier jokes in the film.

But this is Slate's film, giving a distinct star making performance: there's a rapturous sense of life in her situation. Existing in similar emotional territory as last year's excellent Frances Ha and the on-running Girls -- Slate is delightfully colloquial, arrested in her emotional development and existing with a malformed perception of social tact, creating enough of an emotional interior to support the narrative's weighty exterior.

Obvious Child isn't just a subversive take on the genre but an idiosyncratic take on abortions in cinema, a topic ignored or dramatised for socio-political reasons. Robespierre, by forging popcorn cinema that curates an abortion narrative creates a feminist inclined celebration of the progress of the pro-choice movement in a way rare for north american cinema.

Whilst Obvious Child exists as a subversive piece of filmmaking, Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin is a more direct, wholesome approach to the genre.

Revenge ingrained into American cinematic zeitgeist as violence, sex and dubious political agendas -- yet there's something so profound and organic about Blue Ruin's brutality. Underneath its surface layer of dirt and blood, there's something ticking at a menacing pace, a fractured American consciousness, exploited by Jeremy Saulnier in the veins of the Coen Brothers.

Blue Ruin's immediate domesticity is at odds with the film's bleak and violent narrative. As soon as we're initiated into the comforts of the American home we're pulled from it; this is not too dissimilar to what Dwight (Macon Blair) endures. A man whom existed in the peaceful White collar suburbs until his parents were murdered. Saulnier, in a subtle condemnation of America's judicial system allows Wade Cleland Jr release earlier than plan, triggering Dwight's almost primal desire to wipe Cleland Jr and his family from existence.

Saulnier's idea of revenge is that it's as natural as the world around him. The primitive nature of Dwight's revenge comes from the way Saulnier chooses to develop him. He's the least likely man up to the task: physically rough round the edges and armed with insufficient tools. Frequently characterised as a man unable to execute the necessary brutality synonymous with vengeance -- missing cheap shots and breaking guns. Alas, Dwight's novice savagery is endearing, reaching into the black void of the film's narrative and plucking a few well timed and performed moments of comedic catharsis.
This endearing savagery is what makes Blue Ruin so relentless and austere. If Blair had turned Dwight into a soulless killer, our ability to suspend our disbelief would have been anaesthetised. Blair's childlike naivety makes for arresting and panic stricken viewing -- his motive entirely primal, as an audience we're forced to support the atrocities he commits, appealing to us a bass level that we refuse to acknowledge. Blair's performance exercises its capacity to disturb in the film's denouement where Saulnier commits on his promise, reconstructing Blue Ruin as home invasion movie. As Blair becomes more callous, paradoxically, we become more anxious about his safety.

What emerges is a film a shade lighter than a horror film -- a stark vision into unrefined nature of man. If revenge is as natural as the film's final shots then what can clot the blood spilt between families, classes, races and religions?