Film Review – Private Life (2018)

Title – Private Life (2018) 

Director – Tamara Jenkins (The Savages) 

Cast – Paul Giamatti, Kathryn Hahn, Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon, John Carroll Lynch 

Plot – Married New York couple Richard (Giamatti) and Rachel (Hahn) are struggling to keep their relationship above water as they battle a long and arduous journey in the midst of fertility issues.  

“Sorry about the environment!”

Review by Eddie on 11/08/2022

It’s not often one would suggest to viewers to go out of their way and utilize their valuable watching time on a small-scale Netflix released drama but in the case of Tamara Jenkins rarely spoken about dramedy Private Life, a film that tackles the heavy subject matter of infertility with care, wit and inventiveness, time should be found to put this on your viewing schedule to witness an impressive indie that allows its lead duo Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn to shine. 

Her first film since 2007’s well-received The Savages, Jenkins finally returned to the world of film with this 2018 effort, an effort she was also solely responsible for writing and you can tell Jenkins was well and truly in charge of her characters Richard and Rachel and all those that come across their path and Private Life is the type of small film with big messages and a big heart that are now too rare in the Hollywood system that has chosen to forgo such adult-orientated offerings in favor of crowdpleasers that are all about box office dollars not quality over quantity.   

Kicking things off with little wasted time, Private Life throws us headfirst into the tricky and complicated world of Richard and Rachel, a couple who have long been burdened by their quest to conceive their own child or become parents to a child via other means and with this plight Jenkins gives us an honest and raw examination of a relationship tested from all angles as the issues Richard and Rachel face threaten to tear at the very fabric of their once thriving marriage. 

With both main characters, Giamatti and Hahn deliver award worthy performances, performances which Netflix should have campaigned hard for when the film was able to compete in awards circuits and while Giamatti has played this type of role a few times before, Hahn has arguably never been better as the determined and thoughtful Rachel with the actress daring and vulnerable in a turn that showcases with the right material, she is one of the leading Hollywood actresses in the business. 

Throughout this engaging tale there are a few instances that don’t always strike as hard as others with some subplots adding little to the equation, especially Rachel and Richard’s niece Sadie’s personal struggles and potential romance but for the majority, whenever Giamatti and Hahn are on screen they allow Private Life too shine with a haunting final scene likely to stick long in the memory. 

Final Say – 

A little film that tackles some big subjects as well as any other film on the subject matter, Private Life is a welcome return from director Tamara Jenkins and a fine vehicle for its lead actors to shine in. 

4 Richard Nixon masks out of 5  

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