There are two films called The Surrogate. The first is a made-for-TV movie about an obsessive fan who cons her way into a writer’s life by carrying their baby.
“I’ve seen that movie,” says the director Jeremy Hersh, pulling a face. “I hope no one settles on that looking for this. It’s basically anti-women. The implication is that surrogates are crazy and calculating and out to steal some poor woman’s husband.”
Hersh’s film is different. It begins with a positive pregnancy test. “I’m just the vessel!” Jess (Jasmine Batchelor) announces brightly to a waitress at the Brooklyn restaurant where she is celebrating with the baby’s future fathers, Jess’s best friend Josh (Chris Perfetti) and his husband Aaron (Sullivan Jones).
Batchelor and Hersh are speaking to me over video call. It’s the former’s first film and she is extraordinary: real and raw, with an emotional precision that makes her compelling to watch. “When you read a script, especially as a black woman, it’s usually the wife or the girlfriend or the assistant,” she says. “To see a fully fledged character with... see more