What is a film? A narrative swaying between reality and perception. Sometimes the conflict is so natural that we lose track of realism. It’s the magic of a filmmaker to make one believe that even the illusions are as necessary as the reality itself. A24’s film, False Positive, blends the intricate layers of reality and illusion. John Lee’s filmmaking gives you enough to ponder even when the screen fades out.
‘False Positive’ Plot Summary
Manhattan couple Lucia “Lucy” Martin (Ilana Glazer) and Adrian (Justin Theroux) are trying to conceive a child. The past 2 years only brought failure to their endeavors. Adrian, a surgeon, suggests Lucy consult the leading fertility specialist, Dr. John Hindle (Pierce Brosnan). Adrian is a former student of John Hindle and thinks highly of him.
The couple arrives at a lavish Hindle Women’s Center. Dr. Hindle endearingly attends to them and informs them of the issue. Lucy has low hCG levels. Dr. Hindle suggests his formulated technique, Hindle Fertilization, a mix of IUI and IVF. Lucy gets pregnant, all thanks to Hindle’s effortless technique.
But to add to the conflict, Lucy develops three embryos, a feeble female and two strong twin boys. Assessing Lucy’s past complications with pregnancy, Hindle suggests opting for selective reduction, in which either two twins (who are in the same sack) or the female will be terminated to ensure safe pregnancy and birth. Lucy decides to keep her daughter, Zendy but later suspects that Hindle terminated her instead of the boys. It leads to paranoia and panic that feeds the story from thereon.
Why did Dr. Hindle kill Lucy’s daughter, Wendy?
Since the moment she saw her daughter’s embryo on the ultrasound screen, Lucy had been hallucinating throughout. It was the start of her paranoia and illusions. However, by the end, it was perceived that her claims and blames weren’t entirely shallow. Dr. Hindle intentionally terminated Lucy’s daughter, Wendy. But why?
Dr. John Hindle had been running an illegal enterprise at Hindle Women’s Center. His famous and innovative Hindle Fertilization aimed to fertilize his patients with his own sperm because he believed his genes were superior. More straightforwardly, he was playing God in a man’s world. Hindle quoted, “God doesn’t make babies. I do.”
Hindle intentionally kept the twin males and killed the female because the boys would be instrumental in spreading his seeds. Thus, all was done to create a modern monarchy, at least in his own head.
Did Adrian know about Hindle’s illicit practice?
An unconscious Lucy heard Adrian and Hindle whispering about something that was kept a mystery till the end. A paranoid Lucy believed that her husband was aware that Hindle killed her daughter. Yet Adrian held back the secret from Lucy. Her suspicion also framed a hallucination where Adrian was getting intimate with Hindle in a hotel room.
By the end, Lucy was informed by head nurse Dawn that Adrian and Hindle had entered into a partnership agreement to practice together. The information confirmed Lucy’s doubts. She confronted Adrian. He told Lucy that he wasn’t entirely aware of the fact, but Hindle hinted beforehand. Thus, he wasn’t shocked. Even after facing the truth, Adrian was more concerned about his deal with Hindle, which pissed off Lucy.
‘False Positive’ Ending Explained – Did Lucy kill the twins?
In her hallucinations, she did. In reality, she didn’t. Lucy got attached to Wendy, and as a mother, she wanted to protect her at all costs. Grief and Fear breed Delusion. A terrorized Lucy created an image of Grace Singleton, a spiritual midwife. Through Grace, Lucky conceptualized in her head that a man has no authority to control a woman’s body. Most importantly, they have no right to make decisions for her, which apparently Hindle did. Thus, her hallucinations were the subtext the film was trying to convey.
Lucy finally found out about Hindle’s secret lab and his illicit affairs. She thrashed the malevolent Hindle unconscious and drugged his head nurse, Dawn. Before leaving the clinic, a blood-soaked Lucy took her report and her daughter’s embryo. In her hallucinating mind, Lucy came back home and dropped the twin babies out of the window. But rather than falling down, they flew in the sky, in a Peter Pan-ish way (a constant symbolism throughout the film).
The purpose of her hallucination was to symbolize that in her conscious mind, she got rid of Hindle’s twins, who raped her. Finally, she confronted Adrian and accused him of being a part of Hindle’s criminal enterprise. Lucy handed over the twins to Adrian and shouted at him.
In the last sequence, a miserable Lucy breastfed her daughter’s embryo. Wendy started moving in Lucy’s hallucinations, suggesting she still holds the memory close to her heart. Maybe, she might never come out of her remorse.
False Positive is a 2021 Drama Suspense film directed by John Lee. Its screenplay has been written by Lee and Ilana Glazer (who played Lucy in the film).