Legs is a short film that conveys the strain on a woman when trying to conceive very well. Under too much pressure, Joy unravels in Celine Cotran’s enjoyable but sorrowful film.
Joy and Harry are trying to have a baby. When Joy swallows a spider in her sleep and subsequently develops an insatiable appetite for flies, it dawns on her that there may be more than one way of becoming a mother.
With Alannah Lewis’ script, Legs is so much more than just a story about a woman who swallows a spider and tries to have it live inside her. Instead, we have been given a film showing us a woman in Joy who has a happy life; everything seems rosy for her. No matter how much she tries, she cannot get pregnant. We sense the fear in her, even if she is only in her 30s, about not being able to conceive. We have a woman surrounded by people her age who are pregnant or have children, and a societal void has begun to rise within her. For many women around Joy’s age, there will be a kinship with her struggle. A yearning that may never be appeased.
The opening of Legs is what pulls you into the story; we see a distance between Harry and Joy. Obviously, their attempts have been going on for a while, and the romance of trying to conceive has long left the relationship. The line “Let me get to the end of this page, and then I’m your man” isn’t exactly a comment a partner would want to hear before they try to get things going sexually. Also, he is reading a comic; how long is it taking to finish one page?
There is a grounded nature to Celine Cotran’s film that allows you to connect with its characters immediately. Laura Carmichael is excellent, and throughout, you really feel for her. A woman who is so utterly desperate to have a child that she is willing to become slightly unhinged in her idea of what being a mother and carrying a baby to term is. There is real heart in her performance here in Legs that you just keep pitying her; she takes comments said to her and quickly links them to herself, the Doctor saying he when commenting on the swallowed spider, she conveys that as “boy”.
She isn’t all the way gone mentally, though. Part of her realises how weird the situation is, as she doesn’t want to tell Harry, and it is only when Harry starts giving her more attention and affection that she keeps the whole charade going. Once Harry is all in, she falls in love with it and damn if it isn’t as humorous as it is despairing. (Also, never let these two paint your walls…)
Yet, as well as Legs goes to tackle the stresses of trying to conceive and as fresh as the idea is here. It, at times, does not allow itself to go far enough as if it is restrained in running time to fully stretch its legs to give the audience that bit more. On the other hand, that could exactly be the point, to give us this empathetic take on a woman’s fantasy by keeping it all as “normal” as possible.
Regardless, Legs is a strong film that allows us to see the fears and stresses that consume women who are trying to conceive, an area that is all too little spoken about. It’s definitely a film that deserves 15 minutes of your time.
The 19th HollyShorts Film Festival is running between 10th – 20th August with in person and digital screenings available through the 10th to 27th August.
For more information go to www.hollyshorts.com
Coverage of HollyShorts Film Festival 2023:
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