“She gets to create life. What do I get to do?” – The New Man (Film Review)

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The miracle that is bringing another life into the world is something we see on a daily basis, but do we ever really take a step back and think about the process which leads to that little bundle of joy entering the world.

In a very honest, emotional and loving documentary, filmmaker Josh Appignanesi turns the camera on himself in The New Man as the viewer is taken on the roller coaster it is for a man preparing to become a father.

Appignanesi and his partner Devorah Baum are the main focus of this hand-held documentary as you are taken through a moment-by-moment record of his life and feelings on preparing to become a parents for the first time in their thirties.

With any couple they seek advice from friends and family and all their differing views of the process are caught in candid moments over dinner or over a glass of wine.

Even though the film is the couples journey to the birth of their child, and it tries to keep to the element of realism as possible without the two playing to the camera, it is two bits of film editing which really help the viewer invest in this story.

Firstly is the constant sound of the ultrasound machine playing the child’s heart beat at regular intervals. This becomes even more significant when you discover the pair are due to have twins but there is complications with one of the children.

Secondly is just after the birth, when the pair should be in ecstasy at the arrival of their son, the camera follows a sombre Appignanesi walking down the street, with phone messages of celebration dubbed over the top, until the message reveals a message about the burial of the child who died.

There are other characters throughout the film but it is Appignanesi conversations with his mother and father, whose separation when he was five, which are arguably most prominent and act as another source of personal unease, and these conversations are themselves funny and poignant.

Despite the quick edits, which can sometimes make you tune out a little bit, Appignanesi brings together, what may seem as a quite self indulgent topic, into a very honest reflection of everything the pair experienced. All the stress, all the fear and the pure elation when their family is complete.
Dir: Josh Appignanesi and Devorah Baum
Prd: Josh Appignanesi and Devorah Baum
Scr: Josh Appignanesi and Devorah Baum
Cast: Josh Appignanesi, Devorah Baum,  Adam Andrusier, Lisa Appignanesi and Richard Appignanesi
Country: UK
Year: 2016

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