Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her

7. Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her (2000) [Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content and language.]

summary from

An anthology of five loosely connected stories dealing with a variety of very different women in dealing with their own life problems.

directed by: Rodrigo Garcia

starring: Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz, Calista Flockhart, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Valeria Golino, Holly Hunter, Matt Craven, Gregory Hines, Miguel Sandoval, Danny Woodburn, Roma Maffia, Mika Boorem

Non-Conservative Reviews

A Trailer

Abortion/Life Content:

Holly Hunter: I took a home pregnancy test and it lit up like a Christmas tree.

Roma Maffia:Do you remember the date of your last period?

Holly: ummm… I haven’t had one since April.

Roma: I’ll have a look. Have you been trying to get pregant? […]

Holly: No. […]

Roma: Six weeks pregant. Does six weeks sound about right to you?

Holly: Yes.

Roma: Well, that means that you are due… around January 7th.

Holly: I don’t want to be pregnant.

Roma: You don’t?

Holly: No.

Roma: Do you want to have an abortion?

Holly: Yes.

Roma: Have you ever been pregnant before?

Holly: Nuh uh.

Roma: And you are how old?

Holly: 39.

Roma: Well, I gotta tell ya, this might be your last call. I mean… do you want to take a few days and think about it?

Holly: No.

Roma: Maybe there’s someone you want to talk it over with?

Holly: Nope. I have a hunch his wife is not going to like it.

Roma: Is this an ongoing thing?

Holly: Yes.

Roma: How long?

Holly: Three years.

Roma: And you have never mentioned it.

Holly: Oh, I told you about him. I just never told you the details.

Roma: [laughter] well that is a big detail. So what’s in store for the future?

Holly: Only a fool would say.

Receptionist: Okay, the doctor can see you tomorrow at three or Friday at eleven.

Holly: Tomorrow at three.

Receptionist: Here ya go.

Holly: Thanks. [takes a handful of mints on the way out]

Gregory Hines: What about you? You look tired.

Holly Hunter: I am. A little bit. I’m late with my period.

Gregory: You’re always late.

Holly: I saw the doctor at lunchtime. I’m six weeks pregnant.

Gregory: What happened?

Holly: I didn’t have the diaphragm with me that time in Palm Springs.

Gregory: Why not?

Holly: I counted days and figured we’d be okay without it. She set up an appointment for me. Tomorrow afternoon. To take care of it.

Gregory: I won’t be able to get back in time.

Holly: Well that’s okay. […] You don’t think I should have this baby, do you?

Gregory: [makes a “No” sign with head]

Roma Maffia: Hey, all set?

Holly Hunter: Yes. How long will this take?

Roma: Well, it’s just gonna take a few minutes. It’s a real quickie. But they’re gonna ask you to stay around for a while after and you’re not going to be able to drive. Did someone come in with you?

Holly: Robert’s gonna pick me up at four. Why are you here, Deb?

Roma: I just want to stop by and say hello.

Holly: I don’t want you to stay.

Roma: Are you sure about this?

Holly: I don’t want you here.

Glenn Close: Hello.

Holly: Dr. Keener.

Glenn: Are you ready?

Holly: Yes.

Glenn: Very well. You lie down. Now, this won’t knock you out. It’s just to relax you.

Holly: I’m alright.

Glenn: Squish down a little bit more for me please… Would you move this over please? Let me see your chart. Alright. Okay, this might be a little bit cold. Did anyone call when I was in with Judy Goode?

Nurse: I don’t think so, doctor. You want me to check?

Glenn: No. Okay, you’re going to feel a little stick. Oh, it’s hot in this room. Do something about the air, please?

Nurse: DO you need all three of these?

Glenn: Okay. Try to hold still.

[Holly lets out a yelp]

Glenn: You’re almost done. Almost done.

[Holly leaves and starts walking down the street… then starts crying… and finally sobbing…]


from a commenter at Free Republic:

For years, I held a grudge against Holly Hunter (the voice of Mrs. Incredible) for her portrayal of Norma McCorvey (bka “Jane Roe”) in a controversial TV-movie called Roe v. Wade. In an Entertainment Tonight interview about a potential boycott, she said something like “Having a baby just isn’t an option for some people.”

Fast forward to a few years ago: I was in a thrift store and saw some VHS videotapes from someone’s personal collection on sale for $1 each. “What the heck,” I thought, “If I don’t like what’s been recorded on them, I can always tape over it.” One of the programs recorded was an HBO TV-movie called Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her, an anthology of female-centered stories. One of the stories featured Hunter as a single woman living alone but having an affair with a married man (played by the late Gregory Hines). She becomes pregnant, and she expects him to leave his wife for her and raise their child. He balks, and she calmly and coolly sets about getting an abortion. After the deadly deed is done, she walks away from the clinic (being unable to drive, of course) bearing no expression on her face at all. Then, she suddenly dropped to her knees in the middle of the sidewalk and sobbed uncontrollably.

I don’t know what Hunter’s personal views on abortion are, but after having played the now-repentant McCorvey as a heroine, it took some major guts to play a woman whose post-abortion regrets were immediate and severe.

from Movie Train:

Rebecca (Holly Hunter) is a 39 year old bank manager who is having an affair with a married man. She discovers she is pregnant and explains she miscalculated her ovulation cycle at a time she didnt have access to her usual contraception. Rebecca’s gynacologist warns it is probably the last opportunity she will get to have a baby at her age. Rebecca is adament she doesnt want to be pregnant and schedules and abortion. After she has made her decision she informs the man and he is completely disinterested. An old ranting homeless lady near Rebeccas work repeatedly calls her a “sad whore”. Rebecca goes through the experience of the abortion alone and it compounds her feelings of loneliness.

from The Short Films Blog:

“Fantasies about Rebecca” opens with a shot soft lighting and sultry music playing while Robert (Gregory Hines) kisses Rebecca’s back before leaving. We next cut to Rebecca taking a pregnancy test at work. Later, Rebecca is approached by Nancy, a bag lady who bums a cigarette and starts an interrogation in the bank parking lot. Nancy first asks if Rebecca’s a whore and then later accuses her of sleeping her way to the top at work. Rebecca is insulted, but let’s it slide. Nancy asks for the rest of the cigarettes and suggests Rebecca make one of the men buy new ones; they’ll be happy to because they surely fantasize about her anyway. Later, Rebecca asks her coworker Walter if the men fantasize about her and he replies, “I’m sure they do.”

At the doctor’s, while Rebecca learns she is six weeks pregnant, we learn that Robert is married and that their affair has stretched over the past three years. Rebecca seems calm about the pregnancy and requests an abortion. When Debbie, the doctor-friend, prods and tries to convince Rebecca to think it over, Rebecca resists and schedules the abortion for the earliest time the next afternoon. That night Robert stops by for a glass of wine; he doesn’t object to the abortion, only states he won’t be back in time to pick her up (that’s OK she says) before quickly changing the subject to draperies. There is a shot of their wine glasses together on the table and after Robert leaves, Rebecca is left eating by herself in the dark room. Her loneliness is palpable. Later that night, she spots Walter walking into a bar. She follows him, joins him for a drink and then sleeps with him. She leaves while he is sleeping.

The next morning they arrive at the bank at the same time. Walter hops into her car just as Nancy approaches. Among other things, Nancy accuses Rebecca of adultery and calls her “a sad bitch, a loooonely bitch” and then assures her, “It’s not that I don’t like you princess. I feel sorry for you.” Nancy tries to barge into the bank that afternoon, but a security guard pushes her out. When Rebecca leaves to get the abortion, she finds Nancy has left a cigarette carton with her own alleged wedding ring inside under the windshield wiper. After Rebecca’s abortion, performed by Dr. Keener in a quick scene punctuated with the mechanical clicking of metal surgical tools and Rebecca’s calming breaths and winces, Rebecca she leaves alone. In a long, heartbreaking shot, Rebecca starts walking away with a confident gait, but becomes weaker and stumbles into a bush where she finally allows herself to cry. This emotional breakdown is the most moving part of this vignette. For the first time we sense she may regret her decision or is at least overwhelmed by the situation. Once she composes herself, Rebecca continues walking and stops to cross the street. After watching the movie a second time, I got the chills when I realized a woman who stops behind Rebecca at the corner, for literally a second, is the woman walking in front of Dr. Keener’s house (in a blink at the very beginning of the film). She also happens to be carrying a red dress in a dry cleaner’s bag….soo I’m guessing she is the dead woman Carmen while she is still alive…or in ghost form. “Rebecca’s Fantasies” ends with Rebecca watching Nancy push her shopping cart across the street.

“Rebecca’s Fantasies” is an interesting short on its own because it explores the complexity of a seemingly cool, collected bank manager, who may be her coworker’s fantasy, but in reality is lonely and and fragile. Though viewers and Rebecca want to dismiss Nancy as a lunatic, it becomes clear that she has some thought-provoking insights that hit a little too close to home. This segment fits in well with the other stories because there is the obvious recurring theme of loneliness (which isn’t limited to the women in this movie, the men are also lonely), as well as the notion that the lives of all of these women are much more complex, and sometime totally different, from what they may appear to be…

from Dennis Schwartz:

“In Fantasies About Rebecca,” the vignette I liked the best, an attractive, self-confident 39-year-old bank manager Rebecca (Holly Hunter) learns that she is pregnant. When she tells this to her longtime, married boyfriend (Gregory Hines), it is tacitly agreed that she will not have the baby. While waiting for the abortion, she has a spontaneous fling with an office assistant, Walter (Matt Craven). After she has the abortion, performed by Dr. Keener, she breaks down in tears in the street, as her painful life hits home and she realizes that it is more than likely she will never have a child.


“Things You Can Tell” also makes a fine showcase for Hunter, the miracle actress, a woman who can drive home emotions as nebulous as hurt feelings or buried sorrow just by shifting her gait. Hunter’s pixie smile and vinegary little voice may be her most memorable attributes, yet they’re never the first things I think of when I recollect her performances. Here, she’s a middle-aged woman who makes an abrupt decision to have an abortion, and she convinces us that it’s the right decision — only to be seized with regret that she can’t really explain herself.

Hunter has that rare blend of intuitiveness and intelligence; you feel she’s appraising the world every minute, just waiting for it to disappoint her, only to find that she’s not quite sure what to do when she realizes she has disappointed herself. There’s so much toughness even to her uncertainty…

from SFGate:

For example, there’s the long unbroken take in which Hunter, as a woman who has just had an abortion, finds that her married lover has failed to pick her up at the hospital. So she starts walking — and then sobbing. The grief is an eruption, and director Rodrigo Garcia keeps the camera turning, as if convinced he’s getting gold. He was right.

from Variety:

A stranger who tells the central character a thing or two about herself reps an amusing sideshow in the second, longest and one of the best segments, “Fantasies About Rebecca.” A sexy and winningly self-confident Holly Hunter stars as a bank manager who, at age 39, becomes pregnant for the first time. Development is a total surprise, and when her lover of three years (Gregory Hines) drops by the apartment, Rebecca’s condition — and the proper response to it — occupies little more than a minute of discussion.

The lack of emotional, not to say moral, reaction to the pregnancy by both partners is startling — it’s a given that Rebecca will just “take care of it.” Garcia’s treatment is bracingly oblique and nonverbal. Oddly taken with the blunt aspersions a nutty homeless woman (Penny Allen) casts upon her character, Rebecca, while waiting for her abortion appointment, goes home and has sex with her admiring office assistant (Matt Craven). After the procedure, which is performed by Close’s Dr. Keener, segment hits its powerful climax with a stunning scene in which the hitherto composed Rebecca careens around a stark Valley sidewalk and twice breaks down into uncontrollable sobs, while the camera discreetly tracks her erratic movements.

from “Reviews and More”:

The second story is called “Fantasies About Rebecca.” Rebecca (Holly Hunter) is a bank manager who has been having an affair with a married man (Gregory Hines) for three years. When she learns that she’s pregnant, she thinks that the only thing to do is “take care of it.” Before doing so, however, she has a fling with a co-worker named Walter (Matt Craven) and strikes up a strange relationship with a homeless bag lady who hangs out in the neighborhood where Rebecca works. When Rebecca gets her abortion, we see that her surgeon is Dr. Keener. Afterwards, Rebecca is devastated about what she has done — even though she never for one second contemplated keeping the baby.

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1 Response to Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her

  1. Pingback: Welcome | Abortion in Film

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