Because the author/director is an acquaintance of mine, I was interested in watching “The Last Conception”. Let me begin by confessing my lack of knowledge regarding Buddhism and if some of my comments seem inaccurate this might be the problem. The movie has many good qualities. The acting is believable and accomplished. The lead star is beautiful and I have no doubt that she will star in many future movies. There are numerous well constructed scenes. There is a pageantry scene which is gorgeous. I liked the surprise ending. Due to these good qualities I give the movie 5 stars.
However, there are some problems with the plot. While I think the script writer wanted to show conflict between the intelligent, lesbian daughter and her traditional parents, this simply does not ‘come off’. When we learn that her parents are first generation Americans from India, we might expect them to hold traditional values from their culture or religion. There are ‘suggestions’ of this but the parents are not even certain whether they are Buddhist, or Hindu. They had apparently stopped attending religious services when their children were very young. Indeed, the mother and the father too freely give up their ideas of right and wrong, perhaps because they are not based upon anything other than their own opinions. Sadly, their family life has no spiritual foundation and is built upon sand. Without strong scenes of conflicting social values, the parents quickly bend to the standard mores of today’s American society. This is especially evident when their daughter, Savarna, brings home her lesbian lover, Charley, for dinner. After the shock wears off, the mother and father decide it is best not to upset their daughter but to offer unconditional love. However, their love is conditional because they want a grandchild that is a DNA, direct descendant. Their younger daughter’s sweet, adopted grandbaby, Chitra, is mostly ignored by these grandparents.
Ironically, it is the daughter, Savarna, who remains upset because she does not like any suggestions of marriage and a family. This stubbornness is questionable as she works in a laboratory tied to in-vitro fertilization and she has been with her partner for two years. It is also this daughter who does not practice unconditional love. She appears to be unhappy or disgusted most of the time. Having parents who are accepting of her lesbian arrangement, does not brighten her attitude. Why isn’t there an argumentative scene between Savarna and Charley about having a baby, adopting a baby, or waiting to become parents? The audience needs to understand their motives and desires. This aspect is hurriedly brushed aside.
Late in the movie, “Grandma” arrives from India. She offers no opinions but spends her time praying with a spiritual guide. The unexpected arrival of this elderly grandparent introduces a spiritual dimension which we learn is traced back 2500 years.
The surprise ending is delightful and ought to have made a significant difference in the characters’ lives. However, once again popular American values overshadow a mystical blessing. The awaited Thanksgiving toast is directed to Charley, rather than honoring the most wonderful of godly surprises. I can only imagine that to be blessed by Buddha, must seem as significant to believers, as being blessed by God, Christ, or a higher power; but this blessing is not joyfully expressed with gratitude and thanks, especially on "Thanksgiving". Overall, the movie is enjoyable and tastefully done.