Humor and Absurdity in Short Film ‘Pregnant Pause’

Pregnant Pause brings levity to a woman’s difficult choice when she becomes pregnant with her boyfriend’s child.

The film opens with Steph taking a pregnancy test–the comedic tone is immediately established when she experiences bladder shyness up until the moment she finishes taking the test. She emerges from the bathroom as her boyfriend James awaits on the bed. Steph paces, unable to look at the result. They discuss hypothetically what they would want if it were positive–Steph says that she thinks she would want an abortion given their living situation. James frames it asking if she wants a baby generally, even if not for the moment. James states he wants kids, maybe even now; Steph looks back, dumbfounded before spinning out her anxieties. She asks James if it is a “dealbreaker” if she doesn’t want kids–he doesn’t respond and she storms out to think. Steph rides her bike on the dark streets when she is almost hit by a car and falls. The rest of the night takes a strange turn as Steph tries to decide what to do with her hypothetical child.

The acting and use of humor in Pregnant Pause is exceptionally well done. There are numerous instances of witty dialogue exchanges, as when Steph asks James, “and then what?” referring to what will happen after she checks the result of the pregnancy test, to which James responds, “that depends on what it says.” The dry wit of the exchange adds levity to a difficult situation. Steph’s facial reactions, particularly after James asks her point blank about whether she wants a baby as well as in the hospital when she briefly holds another person’s baby, are excellently curated, equal parts comic and relatable. Steph’s anxieties about her potential pregnancy yield many humorous moments as when she rants, “And your parents will be so annoying. They’ll probably want to stroke my belly and read it Shakespeare…you guys having fucking huge heads. I’m just saying that that would be painful coming out” as well as “do we have to create mini versions of ourself like megalomaniacs?” The film perfectly walks the line between clever humor and accurate depictions of legitimate anxieties about a serious step in a relationship. The blend creates a very real and relatable portrait of Steph and James as their relationship implodes under this unplanned pressure.

Pregnant Pause has several moments that border on pure absurdity, beginning with when Steph leaves her house to get some air. The shot of Steph riding her bike in pajamas, beautifully lit in the background, is almost surreal. The film takes an even stranger term when she meets a man wearing a wolf mask on top of his head–it is random to the point of absurdity. The strangeness is quickly explained–the man is on his way to a costume party–but the encounter is still tinged with oddity. The man is almost like an overgrown child, asking Steph her favorite sweets and singing along to radio commercials he’s memorized. The absurdity continues when the doctor tells Steph, “I don’t think you should ask me. I might be completely insane.” The absurdity that dominates the second half of the film can be said to convey Steph’s feeling of a loss of control in her life.

Pregnant Pause tackles an often taboo subject–examining a female character who is unsure if she wants to be a mother, largely because she fears her identity will be subsumed. The film ends with Steph returning home, pregnancy test in hand–presumably she has looked at the result. The audience, however, does not get to know the result. In not revealing it, the film poignantly makes the point that ultimately it is Steph’s body and Steph’s choice.

Samantha Bloom

Samantha is a graduate from Stanford University with a B.A. in English with an emphasis in creative writing. Her previous writing projects have included a satirical Silicon Valley musical, a short film that moves the story of Jekyll and Hyde onto social media, a short film about female embodiment in the modern age, and short stories galore. She’s an obsessive fan girl with an affinity for 80s pop, science fiction, and quirky historical facts. She hopes to be a writer for TV and/or film one day.

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