Tick Tock Lullaby Review
The first mistake that Tick Tock Lullaby makes is in saying that people - straight people, I'm assuming, and not lesbians - get pregnant by chance. Anyone who has ever worked hard to conceive, and it is work, will know that few people get pregnant by chance. Thirteen-year-olds seem to, as do those who feature on Jeremy Kyle so frequently they have a special chair with their name on the back in gold lettering but for everyone else, it's difficult. The sense of scale might be slightly off but imagine throwing the contents of a bag of peas into the Royal Albert Hall in the hope of hitting a basketball lodged underneath a seat somewhere up in the stalls. And that doesn't happen by chance.
Tick Tock Lullaby features writer/director Lisa Gornick as Sasha, a cartoonist who is romantically involved with Maya (Raquel Cassidy). The two seem happy but Sasha desperately wants a baby. Raquel suggests they go cruising for a gay man with whom they can conceive a child, one who will not complicate their biological need with feelings of love. But neither does she want to conceive artificially, which presents Maya with a dilemma. Should she be there when their child is conceived or would it be more simple to close the door behind her and leave Sasha to sleep with a man once again. Meanwhile, Gillian (Sarah Patterson), a single woman who works as a photographer, sleeps with several young men in the hope of getting pregnant. To Gillian, they're simply there to perform a function but her arrangement is complicated when one guy actually wants to be there through the pregnancy. Finally, Gillian's sister, Fiona (Joanna Bending), is trying to conceive naturally with her husband, Todd (William Bowry). Unfortunately, they are unhappy in their marriage and find it difficult, through the fighting, to spend any time together in bed.
On the whole, this is a light and inoffensive comedy, albeit that it might upset more conservative members of its audience, but it's hard to tell if Gornick has actually thought through what it means to have a child. Never once does it ever seem as though Sasha, Gillian and Fiona have a biological need to conceive, more that they've reached a certain age in life and, guided by the pages of glossy magazines, set about having a child. One scene stands out as a moment where Gornick gets it so very wrong. Sasha and Maya stand in a handbag shop and talk about having a baby with Maya wondering if perhaps they should have one each, as though a baby were but one more accessory that they can pick up in a fashionable London store.
It may be that this viewer missed the comedy in the situations but it's more likely that Tick Tock Lullaby is simply unconvincing. There's no reason why lesbian women shouldn't strongly feel a need to have a child but the film never really comes to terms with this. I don't know if Lisa Gornick has a child but there's no strength to her character's conviction, merely that, by her age, she ought to be a mother. In the scenes that she shares with a young girl, there's little that's maternal in their interaction while the film avoids any of the complications that come with a lesbian couple having a child. Adoption and fostering are not discussed at all, while the issue of sperm donation is dealt with similarly to how teenage girls first learn about ejaculation, all with a hefty dose of, "Ewww!" That scene in the handbag store is memorable for all the wrong reasons. It's a middle-class version of Harry Enfield's, "I wanna baby...a brahn baby!" Only here, with it starring a lesbian couple, such a sentiment is joined by a, "Yeah an' I want one too!"
One dwells on Sasha and Maya only because they occupy most of the running time of Tick Tock Lullaby. They're also, even if one's eyebrows are raised throughout a good half of the movie at how fickle they are towards raising a child, the most believable of the three stories in the film. Fiona and Toddy shouldn't even be together never mind trying to conceive a child while Gillian's story is neither interesting nor well-told. Her choosing of a suitable father is so very pretentious, asking that the young male subjects who she chooses to photograph sit forward in the manner of a Francis Bacon painting. Mostly, these men are uneducated and left wondering if Francis Bacon was that guy who was once on Blue Peter but when one actually seems to know who the painter is, the character is written and played such that her story has come upon a crisis and limps to a halt soon after.
This viewer didn't expect to actually learn anything about conception, pregnancy and childbirth from Tick Tock Lullaby. I felt no different watching this as I did Nine Months, feeling that, in spite of the Channel 4-ish tones of the film, it would be no smarter than a movie where Hugh Grant in scrubs is the highlight. However, it's still not a particularly entertaining film, being neither funny nor touching. On the contrary, it's an annoying film, simply for being so poorly executed, very much like its characters in setting out on a journey without a single thought towards what might eventually happen.
Although the back of the DVD box states that Tick Tock Lullaby has been anamorphically transferred, this is not the case. It being so rare to see a non-anamorphic DVD, I actually checked it on a couple of set-ups just to be sure but it is definitely not anamorphic. To be honest, it doesn't affect the end picture very much. Looking as though it was recorded onto DV, there are few scenes in the film that are particularly sharp with Gornick preferring to catch the action very much on the run or with simple set-ups on location. The environments are natural and unstaged and this comes across very well on the DVD. The bars, parks and apartments do look and sound very much as they are and while the picture may not look very detailed, the colours and ambience of the picture is at least represented well. The dialogue is carried without any problems on the DD2.0 track but there are no moments that stand out. On the other hand, Gornick would have done well to tone down the scraping of chairs on the tile floors of her bar scene as that threatens to overcome the dialogue of one of the more important (and better written) moments in the film. Finally, there are no subtitles.
The main bonus material is a Commentary featuring Lisa Gornick, Raquel Cassidy and composer Mat Davidson. Together, they have a good relationship and there are moments in their commentary that are interesting, funny and touching but the problem is more that the audio levels of film and commentary are not very different and the dialogue between Gornick and Cassidy in the movie are not dissimilar to how they talk in real-life. As such, it's sometimes difficult, particularly if your attention drifts somewhat, to tell what is of the commentary and what is of the film. Mat Davidson is on the sidelines for much of this commentary but does make the odd contribution.
Other than some Trailers, the only other bonus material is an Interview with Gornick and Cassidy (24m26s), which sees them talk about their collaboration on an earlier film, the friendship between them and how this is reflected in what Gornick's screenplay. As with the commentary, this also demonstrates the strength of the relationship between Gornick and Cassidy with the two of them laughing, joking and talking over one another but it also goes some way to explaining Gornick's script and how feelings of ambivalence towards parenthood influenced her film.