Film Review: In Vitro

Our Rating

Director: Toby Stephens

Principal Cast: Anna Louise Plowman, Rupert Penry-Jones and Stephanie Leonidas

Release Date: 30 September 2015

Plot: An exploration of how infertility can erode a marriage, from a male perspective.


In Vitro is the short-film directorial debut from Toby Stephens, of Black Sails fame. It has a small cast of four people, and is set in two intermingling time frames. The first time frame involves a couple played by Anna Louise Plowman (of Stargate SG fame) and Rupert Penry-Jones (of Life in Squares and The Strain fame).

The characters of Plowman and Jones are experiencing their fifth round of in vitro fertilisation treatment in a desperate attempt to become pregnant, after all other means have failed. The process is successful, but Plowman’s character experiences a miscarriage.

The second time frame is set two years after the miscarriage, when Penry- Jones character begins an affair with a woman at work – played by Stephanie Leonidas (of Defiance fame). Leonidas’s character falls pregnant, and the unwanted pregnancy is terminated.

The film has the stamp of Stephens’ personal and creative vision – it explores a subject rarely touched in film, and Stephens feels it needs to be. Through In Vitro, Stephens intends to raise questions and prompt discussion, rather than moralise the process.

A bloodied scene from the aftermath of the miscarriage in the bedroom is cut in with a scene from the bedroom of the adulterous couple, before Leonidas’s character becomes pregnant. She lies with her back to him, and says: “How does it feel cheating on your wife?” He says, “Don’t judge me,”, to which she replies, “I’m not judging you; I barely know you.”

We think this is a promising start from this auteur, and look forward to some feature length work from Stephens as Director and Writer.

Stephens will be appearing in Black Sails 2 with his leading man Penry- Jones in 2016, and will also play Tony Blair in The Journey, also due for release in 2016.

The film plus a bundle of behind-the-scenes content – including interviews, making-of documentaries, stills, and more – will be released globally and exclusively on We Are Colony from the 30th September.

Words by Karen Durham

The Breakdown

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