A Life Inside
Our Take – Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
A Life Inside, by Nicole Rixon, shines a light on the recent issues faced by new parents and mothers within the confines of the covid-19 pandemic. Written with actual experiences as source material, A Life Inside makes us aware of the fraught issue of the inequality of reproductive labour. These were exacerbated by the pandemic to say the least.
The major issue seen in A Life Inside is the total lack of support networks and resulting forced isolation brought upon new mothers. Our mother character experiences contractions (and birthing we assume) in almost total isolation. Laura Lamb’s performance in the close-up of the contraction scene – phlegm, snot and all – has the ability to move us tremendously in empathy and consideration for this position.
With this lack of support network psychological issues also come about. With flooding anxiety and lack of confidence in her own motherhood, Lamb’s character looks to her partner for support. This is where the issue of male responsibility comes in. Our father character, stressed out himself, fails to offer the right concoction of safety and support: his expectation of level-headedness from his wife is unreasonable. The trauma of birth and the psychological issues it may cause afterwards are no place to expect the objective reasoning of a level-headed response.
Reconciliation and a support network does emerge in the end shot of the film however. And it takes the form of male abdication of importance and foregrounding listening. At the same time this brings about the necessary space in which vulnerabilities may be shown and safety nets and support networks forged.
The team behind Nicole’s film have given five resources for pregnant and post-pregnancy people:
Make Birth Better
The Birth Trauma Association
Maternal Mental Health Alliance
The Perinatal Mental Health Partnership