Review of “Tick Tock Lullaby”

In a time when pregnancy movies are all the rage in Hollywood (see: Juno, Knocked Up, Baby Mama), Tick Tock Lullaby brings an honesty and distinctly indie sensibility to the table. While the title evokes a sense of a ticking biological clock, the movie leaves behind the usual clichés. Written and directed by Lisa Gornick (Do I Love You?), the film features a lesbian couple struggling with the baby question, as well as a few quirky straight characters dealing with the same.

Tick Tock Lullaby centers on Sasha (Lisa Gornick, again) and Maya (Raquel Cassidy), a London couple in the midst of deciding whether or not to have a child. They decide early on that the baby should be conceived the “old-fashioned” way (that is, through intercourse), and they try to find a suitable man for the job.

While this may not seem like the most natural choice in the world, both partners seem committed and happy together, and both are on board for what becomes a long, winding road to conception.

Warning: Some spoilers

Interwoven through the course of the film are two parallel story lines. One involves Fiona (Joanna Bending) and Steve (Sam Spruell), a straight couple who are trying for a baby themselves and experiencing their own hang-ups and doubts. The other, slightly more bizarre thread follows Fiona’s sister, Gillian (Sarah Patterson), a successful photographer who sleeps around with young guys, trying to get pregnant. She interviews and photographs them first, cataloguing her attempts to conceive.

The central dramatic question for everyone in the film is whether or not he or she is truly ready for a child — and all the ramifications.

Sasha reflects (via stream-of-consciousness voice-overs) on what having a baby will mean for her and Maya’s relationship, and whether Maya will have trouble accepting her baby as “theirs.” Fiona worries what Steve will be like once fatherhood is thrust upon him, and Gillian simply doesn’t seem to be able to connect with anyone on a meaningful level, so motherhood seems a stretch.

Things become complicated when Sasha and Maya meet Laurence, a handsome, sensitive actor who might be perfect for their purposes. Laurence brings up powerful, latent feelings in Sasha, causing more angst than the couple bargained for at the beginning of their quest.

On the straight side, Fiona encounters some major difficulties with Steve, since every time they try to conceive, she can’t help but worry about parenthood. Gillian meets someone who complicates her life as well, refusing to just pose for a picture and vacate her life after they’ve had sex.

While the Gillian and Fiona/Steve story lines are interesting and certainly provide counterpoint to the movie, Sasha and Maya’s story gets the most screen time. The film follows the couple as they make love, bicker about the specifics of conception and sharing, bond with Sasha’s toddler niece, and cruise for sperm.

This is complemented by the introspective drawings of Sasha, who is a cartoonist, and her accompanying voice-overs. Through these scenes, the audience receives a very intimate portrait of the character and her feelings on the baby issue, being gay, sex and dealing with jealousy.

Any work featuring a story line centering on lesbian mothers is bound to get some flak just for the cliché factor. Tick Tock Lullaby does feature two women cruising for sperm, and it does flirt with the possibility of a lesbian having sex with a man (another clichéed fantasy). However, the film tackles the subject with such earnestness and honesty — in one voiceover, Sasha describes wanting the donor to be attracted to her, in order to conceive a child with genes that “like each other” — that it offers a fresh perspective.

And of course, the film isn’t only about lesbian motherhood. In fact, Fiona is so neurotic about pregnancy and Gillian so creepy about the way she chooses potential fathers that Sasha and Maya seem almost like the pillars of normalcy in comparison.