Review: How to Hack Birth Control

Written and directed by Sassy Mohen, how to navigate and take charge in today’s contraception universe. Told through the sharp wit and perky charm of the narrator Ruth, takes a run at a hit list of ‘not supposed to talk about’ scenarios. Starring: Xanthe Paige, Jackie R. Jacobson, Aisha Renee Holden, Cynthia San Luis, Lauren Elizabeth Harris, Brooke Ashley Rose Johnson, Garrison Oliver Gross, Dash Kennedy Williams, Micaela Martinez and Spring Inés Peña.

You can’t watch How to Hack Birth Control without realising how painfully relevant and timely it has become given the growing possibility of horrific changes to women’s healthcare in the US. It’s also always a pertinent conversation of how women can access birth control safely and, especially in the US, how to do so without bankrupting themselves, which is exactly what this explores in a nutshell. Sassy Mohen finds a very accessible style to talk about a topic, which should be widely discussed, but is often treated as if it’s a taboo. It taps into the funny side of things, taking a typical situation a woman may find herself in and exaggerates it just enough to make it humorous but still educational. It’s one of the great balances Mohen creates, managing to establish that comedic style in the writing but never losing the genuine, helpful value of the information it’s dispelling.

Part of that accessibility is the choice to take on such a colourful, old-fashioned aesthetic and atmosphere. It plays out like an infomercial mixed with a game show from the 1970s, intensely energetic and perky while still having a witty jab here and there. It has a playful vibe but simultaneously imparts how having choices and access to birth control affects women’s quality of life. As well as being a kind reminder that women should not feel alone, plenty of others have and are going through exactly the same thing. The style is also charming and captivating, the pacing works extremely well, it keeps you hooked from start to finish and leaves you wanting more. It would be a fascinating litmus test to have men watch this and see how much they’re familiar with, and is a great way to instil the information in a cheery, positive package.

Another reason why it works so well is its narrator, played by Xanthe Paige, she brings that classic presenter feel with an edge of satire. The type where she’s being entirely supportive but is also capable of giving a biting line when needed. It’s a great ensemble as a whole but it certainly helps to guide things along having a connecting character. Each performance helps keep the strong sense of humour going throughout, they all manage to capture its tongue-in-cheek nature without feeling superficial. The segments are all different but feel like one hugely cohesive piece, with the tone being satisfyingly consistent.

How to Hack Birth Control takes the topic and presents it in a joyfully accessible and positive manner. It perfectly manages to provide educational information in a playful and almost parody fashion, while never losing the sincerity and its message. It creates a colourful, easy-going platform to put out a topic which isn’t discussed enough in the public; highlighting the impact of accessibility and affordability of birth control on women’s quality of life. It’s funny, silly and charming but doesn’t at all undermine the topic’s relevancy and importance, and given the current political landscape, it’s an absolutely necessary reminder of why having these choices is vital for women’s health.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Showing at FirstGlance Film Festival on 15 May – For more info click here

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