Scrambled – Film Review
Women are often told that your 30s are a fabulous time where everything slots together, you can have it all and becoming the ultimate ‘girl boss’ is now a hackneyed phrase. Amongst all of these tales of female empowerment, one little considered aspect is that our womanly bodies may be termed ‘geriatric’ in medical terms, at a certain stage of life. Basically, once your mid 30s arrive, it is common to hear queries about your childless state from strangers, friends and family alike. This is where Scrambled seeks to change the narrative. Scrambled presents a comedic, but frank, outlook – the title is even a play on words – to explore that secretive arena of female fertility and loneliness. Leah McKendrick, in her compelling directorial debut, also stars in and wrote Scrambled, which has earned the 2024 Critics Choice Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment (SOFEE), for her efforts.
McKendrick, in this no holds barred female led comedy, has admirably refused to shy away from demystifying the options available to single women to take control and effectively buy themselves time. Scrambled is thus a fresh, witty but also moving perspective regarding the ticking of the biological clock and the societal pressure placed on women. Admittedly, I wish that a film of this nature, offering such frank discourse and insights, had been available in my 20s! McKendrick, whilst writing Scrambled, was in the process of having her eggs frozen, which results in the authentic, personal voice that emanates throughout the film.
McKendrick impressively stars as Nellie, a 34 year old woman who does not have her life together. Nellie is suffering from a major breakup, is still trying to develop her online jewellery business and therefore, like so many of us, is not fulfilling all of her childhood ambitions. In her own words, she wears being a ‘forever bridesmaid’ as a badge of honour and is at that life stage where attending weddings and baby showers each month is the norm. Despite Nellie’s relatable bravado, it is obvious that family discussions around the dinner table are grating concerning her ability to reproduce, whilst the family commits the glaring double standard of ignoring her older brother’s single status.
Thus, Scrambled’s appeal is twofold, it operates as a new entry within the girls behaving badly canon à la Bridesmaids and Animals but also operates as a novel experience of fertility issues joining recent films such as Only You, Together Together, and Souvenir which explored varying experiences of IVF and surrogacy. Whilst Scrambled adopts a light touch approach regarding reproduction, which could be divisive as it plays for laughs – Nellie’s doctor even jokes about her levels of sexual activity – its unique voice should still be celebrated as the desire for authentic women’s storytelling exists. Hilarious but profound, Scrambled speaks for present and future generations.
McKendrick’s timing is impeccable as women’s bodies and their fertility choices have recently been subjected to litigation with the overturning of Roe vs Wade. Fortunately, one of Nellie’s friends is frank enough to reveal the harsh reality of conceiving in your 40s. This scene’s delivery could be criticised for being comedic but will, hopefully, encourage more honest discussions of this kind.
Perhaps, as presented by McKendrick, the solution is to invest in ourselves and request that deposit, as a birthday or Christmas present, to secure our future fertility options. However, the conundrum remains that couples may face having to decide between utilising that deposit for future housing instead due to a lack of financial support. McKendrick’s film only superficially touches upon the associated financials for egg freezing procedures, and continuous storage, preferring to illustrate the slapstick nature of Nellie’s antics during her fertility and dating journey. The result may be an uneven film yet it still reflects that women are subject to life’s ups and downs and also provides a fleshed out character in Nellie.
Scrambled showcases McKendrick’s comedic flair as its structure resembles late night comedy sketches where Nellie’s good-looking ex-boyfriends humorously exhibit their red and beige flags. Notably, McKendrick’s performance stands out as she exudes charisma, perfect comic timing, and demonstrates such joy in playing Nellie, who is regularly dancing to a fantastic soundtrack or recapturing her youth in a 90s style throwback scene. Her chemistry with other members of the cast is riveting to watch despite some exaggerated and predictable rom-com moments.
Overall, McKendrick’s desire to illustrate the degrees of isolation involved in Nellie’s decision succeeds and will undoubtedly resonate with many in their 30s. Scrambled, therefore, is an enjoyably refreshing film within its ability to tackle such necessary topics. More films of this genre will be welcomed and ultimately, Nellie’s fertility journey in Scrambled invokes the unforgettably poignant words of Saoirse Ronan’s Jo March from Little Women regarding societal double standards. Indeed, we may be frustrated by the limitations placed on women, when we do have ambitions, but sometimes we do just have to admit that life’s journey can be ever so lonely. As such, Scrambled may provoke that inspiration that self-love, scrambled eggs and Britney are all that we need to get by!