Rachel Hendrix stars as Hannah in "October Baby." (Samuel Goldwyn Films )
Fine performances and authentic emotion trump some heavy-handed speechifying in co-directing brothers Andrew and Jon Erwin's faith-based, anti-abortion drama "October Baby," a film whose poignancy is hard to deny whatever side of the abortion debate you fall on.
Following an intriguing first act in which health-challenged 19-year-old Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) learns that she was actually adopted (after surviving a failed late-term abortion), Jon Erwin and Theresa Preston's script stumbles with lame attempts at humor and "hipness" as Hannah sets off on a road trip with friends — in an unreliable old VW bus, no less — to track down her biological mom.
A forced hotel stop involving Hannah and childhood pal and co-traveler Jason (Jason Burkey) — despite the actors' nice chemistry — awkwardly extends this interminable stretch.
But once Hannah reaches her Mobile, Ala., destination and logically, if perhaps too conveniently, finds her birth mother (Shari Rigby), the film kicks in and becomes a more satisfying look at youthful trauma, family secrets, self-acceptance and forgiveness.
The movie's greatest strength, however, lies in the sensitive portrayal of Hannah and her protective father's (John Schneider) deep relationship, which fractures after she discovers the long-hidden truth about her past.
Jasmine Guy is also superb in one beautifully wrought scene as the ex-abortion clinic nurse who later witnessed Hannah's birth.