The New Man
Anyone could be forgiven for first believing this film is merely a stylised fictional drama, with a script and cast in tow anxiously attempting to appear natural. But it soon becomes apparent, as pregnant Devorah’s bump grows within the story, that The New Man is in fact a documentary. Created by Josh Appignanesi in collaboration with his wife, it is a film that portrays their very real leap into parenthood and the struggles of getting there. Refusing to give way when things get tough, it is a movie that lays bare the pain of its protagonists mercilessly; and in doing so it offers a rare, yet captivating depiction of some of the most painful and pivotal moments in life.
Opening on their wedding, The New Man tells the tale of lecturer Devorah Baum and filmmaker Josh Appignanesi, as they undergo IVF treatment in the hopes of conceiving a child. Both in their late 30s, their journey to a successful pregnancy is not an easy one and even when they finally prevail further difficulties lie in store. Running parallel is Josh’s personal storyline, and his gradual acceptance of impending fatherhood. Overwhelmed by the responsibility he must face and frustrated by his inability to be able to help his suffering wife when things get dark, he can do nothing but keep the cameras rolling and display their pain to the world, in the hopes that there will be a chink of light – or a crying newborn – at the end of the tunnel.
There is real, tangible pain in this film. Devorah’s desperation for a child and the suffering that comes with getting one takes her through despair and madness and it is very well captured. Josh doesn’t fare much better, with frequent close-up shots of him looking desperate and exhausted, staring at the viewer asking for help, or pity or anything to get him out of his situation. As an audience member it is unusual to be exposed to so much honesty on screen, and while it may be uncomfortable for some, it will be refreshing for others.
The film is edited well, and the narrative is solid and strong. The journey is captured in its entirety from hope to salvation, and no moment of distress is spared by the invasive camera lens. The New Man feels like an entirely “new” type of documentary: there is no hindsight, it is factual and yet created within the moment. It is both challenging and rewarding to watch, and it has a story that will resonate with many viewers indeed.
The New Man is released on 18th November 2016.
Watch the trailer for The New Man here: