“Why does it have to hurt?”
Ilana Glazer and I have reached a mutual conclusion whilst pondering the complexities of OB-GYN healthcare in America, specifically speculums and lubed-up ultrasound probes searching for alien life forms.
I relay a story to Glazer of getting emotional with a Nurse Practitioner who did a gentle Pap smear on me. She handed me tissues for the tears streaming down my face as I told her, “Thank you for being so kind.”
“There is something that has been continually clarifying in my pregnancy,” the actress says seated in a swivel chair obstructed by her signature curls while having her makeup applied, “It’s horrifying that women are second class citizens across all socioeconomic statuses, all across the world and on a varying degree of wealth and race, all these qualifiers that fit us into boxes. The unspoken violations from minuscule to enormous and egregious are constant. I had a gynecologist tell me as well, “This is gonna hurt.” It’s like, why is it?”
I’ve never seen anyone in a more laborious state. Within the next few weeks, she is due to give birth to a baby and a new Hulu feature-length film, False Positive, a bizarre mix of horror and fantasy she co-wrote with friend and frequent collaborator John Lee. Ilana describes her debut feature as “a horror movie about the patriarchy as it’s expressed through medicine — and pregnancy medicine in particular.” It’s a very different story than I am used to for entertainment. A mindfuck really. A character I certainly would not expect from Ilana, but it’s also a film with Hollywood stars playing roles so unlike themselves it’s hard to imagine them in anything else.
Watching False Positive is like a fever dream. Rosemary’s Baby would be too easy a comparison, this film is a dark twisted tale of patriarchy and women’s bodies that seems to crawl into you. Ilana’s character Lucy moves on the screen in muted colors wearing fine jewelry married to Justin Theroux. She is flawlessly hard-working and put together. They live a cushy New York life, one of wall-to-ceiling windows apartments and clawfoot tubs, expensive health insurance, jobs in the haute bourgeoisie class. It looks perfect on paper. First comes love, then marriage but then the stalled baby in the carriage has them painfully going through the motions of trying to get pregnant.
The subject of fertility is jarring for most as a conversation starter, False Positive immediately turns the lens into the lives of a couple going through infertility treatments. Within the first few minutes, the lexicons of the female body are normalized as the viewer goes into a very personal, very intimate, very uncomfortable journey that is a conversation that only seems to happen between couples. Pierce Brosnan on screen as Dr. Hindle is a triggering reminder of the many tops of the male doctor heads that have been poking and prodding in my own body. The diagnosing of sonograms, and lab results while I lay open on a cold table. It’s sinister in style but more so an unsettling commentary on the healthcare system in America. Even though Lucy and Adrian’s doctor visits are in beautiful spaces using high-grade instruments, the film shows how the Goliath of the healthcare industry sucks you in alive. The, “That’s just how it is” nightmare of it all. Lucy seems to be fighting back against this in all her privilege while highlighting privilege.
Grace Singleton, another Hollywood heavyweight that stars in the film, gives way to a beautiful arch that highlights Glazer’s devotion to intersectionality and ignorance.
“I am not your mystical negress Lucy.” A powerful Singleton says before an unmasked Lucy in one scene.
“Without Grace’s part, I really think the story is meaningless. Ilana says when I bring up that particular scene, “Intersectionality is the key to this awakening. If, if we don’t include that, it’s not an awakening, it’s genuinely meaningless. I’m really interested in modeling white ignorance. It interests me and thrills me. It is scary but it’s also an invitation. If I can model it first maybe it’s less scary for others to embody.”
Broad City and her character Ilana Wexler first thrust the actor into the American Pop culture lexicon. Glazer’s almost physical comedy performances on the Comedy Central cult classic were a brilliant reminder of characters like Lucille Ball or Seinfeld’s goofball Kramer. She became the quirky meme next door that you wanted to be friends with or just have a conversation about race relations over a joint and a beer in the park.
She expanded her roles in Hollywood as a relatable leading woman and standup who can share screen time with Scarlett Johansson as equally to her co-star in False Positive Pierce Brosnan. We both fangirl about the actor for a bit.
“ I really, really took note of the way he operated. He’s a really elegant and self-contained individual. I can see why he has been so successful. He’s pretty phenomenal.”
It’s a fluid career choice that makes it hard for Glazer to get typecast for inventing such a famous character. “ I think now that I’m getting more distance from Broad City since I have a body of work outside of that.” Glazer brings up Bob Dylan starting to play the electric guitar and Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain album. “I feel like now at this point reinvention is more fluid for me. It feels more accessible. Actually, it feels safer to continue to grow than to not.”
Glazer says this whole almost making a metaphor for her current pregnancy. She is dignified way like she is carrying a badge of honor that shows how strong she is. Most of her communication comes through body language postured and demurely kind.
“I’m going to give birth and I am really looking forward to the next few months. Spending it with a brand new human who was mine and stepping outside of the system where I feel like my worth is tied to quantity or productivity. I’m excited to resist that. I’m really inspired about the impending resistance of that.”
Entire look, GUCCI.
CONNECT WITH ILANA:
ILANA GLAZER x LADYGUNN JULY DIGITAL COVER
Photos | SHERVIN LAINEZ
CD + Styling | PHIL GOMEZ
Makeup | REBECCA RESTREPO
Hair | MATHEW MONZON
Story | KOKO NTUEN
Digital Editor | SAM BERLIN
Motion Director | JULIA PITCH
DoP | GEOFF TAYLOY
Editor | SARA SOWELL
Colorist and Color House | @NTROPIC