Review of Gabriela Ledesma’s The Last Conception
The Last Conception (2020). 1h 25min. Directed by Gabriela Ledesma. Written by Gabriel Constans. Featuring Nazanin Mandi, Callie Schuttera, Lovlee Carroll.
Considering the fact that India is home to one of the largest film industries, Indian representation in American media does not seem to line up with the amount of South Asian stories and talent out there. The rich cultures and traditions that make up South Asian experiences have much to offer in the arts that Hollywood is frankly not using to their advantage. Gabriela Ledesma’s The Last Conception is an example of the endless storylines, plot twists, and talented actors that Indian cinema has to offer. The film opens with the nerve-racking ordeal of coming out to parents whose reaction we fear may not be supportive. Savarna Sikand, played by Nazanin Mandi, has been dating her girlfriend Charley (Callie Schuttera) for two years and has finally run out of excuses to not tell her parents. While that sounds like the entire premise of an engaging film, it is only a microscopic fraction of the twists and turns that The Last Conception throws the audience’s way.
If you’re looking for all the drama and plot twists of a TV show without the weeks of commitment, The Last Conception has you covered. With all the storylines that emerge, the film feels more like a television series than a standard film with a traditional story arc. Rather than taking its audience on the standard journey of exposition, climax, and resolution, The Last Conception takes a few detours that bring about new conflicts that don’t necessarily get resolved. Although this gives the film an incomplete feeling, it leaves the door open to a sequel.
The area that the film shines the most in is casting. The Last Conception has a strong cast across the board. From lead roles to supporting characters, everyone knows how to play up their performances at the comedic parts, and tone it down when the story requires some breathing room. This hard-to-achieve balance makes for jokes that actually land with the right amount of camp to make it a lighthearted and easy watch. Actor Lovlee Carroll delivers some of the funniest lines with her quirky and offbeat portrayal of Savarna’s sister Chitra.
The crisp, bright, and saturated cinematography, paired with the score’s consistent melody, maintains a television-like aesthetic that stays in line with the narrative. The subtle camera movements and subdued soundscape let the story and its protagonists be the main focus. Although it takes a little digging to find a central story and message, The Last Conception is an intersectional story that highlights the kind of diversity that is missing in American film and TV. By bringing together culture and sexuality in a subtle way, The Last Conception presents queerness and Indian culture as part of a multilayered identity, rather than a source of constant strife.
You can stream The Last Conception on various platforms, including Amazon, YouTube, Fandango, Vudu, and iTunes. Learn more about the film by visiting its IMDb page. Connect with Mimi by visiting her profile.