Like most folks who attended the last screening of Natural Selection, I was catching the film mostly due to its winning both the audience and jury awards at SXSW. I hadn’t heard of it either, but then there were a ton of films on the venue, and I stuck to the ones I probably wouldn’t get screening invites to later (read “documentaries”).
So the hype for Natural Selection was ample, foremost among its champions was/is my Chicago colleague, the great Roger Ebert. And I can see why: It’s a tender, sweet story, the performances are terrific, and it’s all-around original, funny, and (forgive the use of this word) fresh.
Rachel Harris (whose eclectic credits range from The Hangover to Stuart Little 2 to SeaQuest DSV) plays the infertile, sexually frustrated, and very Christian housewife Linda White. Since she can’t produce a child and since she and her husband Abe Abe (John Diel) are such dedicated Christians, the two haven’t had sex in about a quarter of a century.
Abe finds a loophole in the only-sex-for-procreation by making weekly donations to the local sperm bank, something Linda is unaware of (as it would only compound her frustration at not being able to likewise relieve herself) until Abe suffers a stroke during one session and subsequently reveals to her that years ago one of his donations grew into a 23-year-old son Raymond (Matt O’Leary). He tasks Linda with tracking down Raymond so he can see the lad before he dies, and, like the dutiful wife she is, Linda accepts.
However, Raymond is the polar opposite of Linda—blasphemous, crooked, and, as the opening scene discloses, a fugitive. At first he resists her request, but after spying the opportunity to run some sort of grift on this gullible, overly patient woman, he accepts.