Private Life (2018 film)

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Private Life
Private Life poster.jpeg
Official poster
Directed byTamara Jenkins
Produced by
  • Anthony Bregman
  • Stefanie Azpiazu
  • Tamara Jenkins
Screenplay byTamara Jenkins
CinematographyChristos Voudouris
Edited byBrian A. Kates
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • January 18, 2018 (2018-01-18) (Sundance)
  • October 5, 2018 (2018-10-05) (United States)
Running time
123 minutes
CountryUnited States

Private Life is a 2018 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Tamara Jenkins. The film stars Paul Giamatti, Kathryn Hahn, Kayli Carter, Molly Shannon, John Carroll Lynch, Desmin Borges, and Denis O'Hare.

The film focuses on Richard and Rachel, a middle-aged married couple of writers, who are desperately trying to have a child by any means possible.

The film had its world premiere on January 18, 2018 at the Sundance Film Festival. The film was released on October 5, 2018, by Netflix.


Richard (Paul Giamatti) and Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) are a childless middle-aged couple desperately trying to have a child. After multiple failed attempts at artificial insemination they attempt in vitro fertilisation where they learn that Richard has a blockage that is not letting him produce sperm forcing him to choose a quick surgery and go $10,000 dollars in debt to his brother Charlie and Charlie's wife Cynthia. At the same time they are also attempting to adopt a child after having previously being matched with a pregnant teenager from Little Rock who was looking to give up her child and then stopped contacting them.

After the IVF fails their doctor floats the idea of using a donor egg to inseminate Rachel which would raise their chances of success from 4 to 65 percent. Rachel is initially against the idea, but slowly begins to contemplate it with Richard's encouragement.

Cynthia's 25-year-old daughter, Sadie, meanwhile decides to leave her college writing program to finish in absentia and go live with Richard and Rachel, with whom she is already very close. Rachel, who struggled with the idea of an unknown egg donor, decides that she wants to ask Sadie for her eggs. To their surprise Sadie quickly agrees, both because she loves Richard and Rachel and because she thinks the egg donation will bring meaning to her life.

Sadie informs her mother she will be donating her egg during Thanksgiving, much to her mother's displeasure. Despite the fact that Richard and Rachel tell Cynthia they will not go through with the donation without her consent, they decide to go through with pre-screening.

Richard, Rachel and Sadie happily go through the egg donor treatments together, but Sadie is told at an appointment that she is not developing eggs quickly enough. Determined not to let Richard and Rachel down, she increases her drug dosage on her own. The egg retrieval is a success, but Sadie becomes ill. Richard and Rachel take her to the hospital, where they learn of the increased dosage. Sadie moves out of their apartment.

Richard and Rachel go through with the implantation but it is a failure. While Rachel is devastated, Richard admits to being relieved that they are finally done with trying as their marriage and intimacy have suffered.

Sometime later they drop Sadie off at the Yaddo colony, where she will take up a residency as a writer. She thanks Rachel for her help getting in and Rachel informs her she did nothing to aid her application and that Sadie did it all on her own.

Nine months later Richard and Rachel are celebrating Halloween when they receive a call from another woman looking at them as potential parents to adopt her child. They drive to an Applebee's where they wait to meet the woman.



On January 4, 2017, it was reported that Kathryn Hahn would star in the Netflix film Private Life, written and directed by Tamara Jenkins.[1] On January 31, 2017, Paul Giamatti joined the cast.[2] On March 16, 2017, it was reported that Molly Shannon, Emily Robinson, John Carroll Lynch, Kayli Carter, and Francesca Root-Dodson would also be part of the cast.[3] As of March 17, 2017, the film had begun shooting in White Plains, New York.[4] Denis O'Hare[5] and Desmin Borges[6] subsequently joined the cast.


The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2018.[7][8] It also screened at the New York Film Festival on October 1, 2018.[9][10] It was released on October 5, 2018.[11]


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on 79 reviews, and an average rating of 7.7/10 with the critical consensus "Private Life uses one couple's bumpy journey to take an affecting look at an easily identifiable - and too rarely dramatized - rite of adult passage."[12] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 83 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[13]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Gotham Awards November 26, 2018 Best Actress Kathryn Hahn Nominated [14]
Best Screenplay Tamara Jenkins Nominated
Satellite Awards February 17, 2019 Best Independent Film Nominated [15]
Independent Spirit Awards February 23, 2019 Best Director Tamara Jenkins Nominated [16]
Best Screenplay Nominated
Best Supporting Female Kayli Carter Nominated
South African Film Online Critics Circle December 17, 2018 Best Supporting Actress Kayli Carter Won [17]


  1. ^ Busch, Anita (January 4, 2017). "Kathryn Hahn In Negotiations For Tamara Jenkins' 'Private Life' At Netflix". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  2. ^ Busch, Anita (January 31, 2017). "Paul Giamatti Joining Kathryn Hahn In 'Private Life' For Netflix". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  3. ^ Acevedo, Yoselin (March 16, 2017). "'The Savages' Director Tamara Jenkins to Helm Molly Shannon-Starring Netflix Drama 'Private Life'". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  4. ^ Suburbarazzi (March 17, 2017). "Netflix filming in White Plains, Nyack and Tarrytown". The Journal News. Gannett Company. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  5. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (April 19, 2017). "'American Horror Story's Denis O'Hare Boards 'Private Life'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  6. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (May 8, 2017). "Manuel Garcia-Rulfo Cast In 'Widows'; Desmin Borges Joins Netflix Film 'Private Life'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  7. ^ Erbland, Kate (December 19, 2017). "Sundance 2018 Adds New Films From Lynne Ramsay, Hannah Fidell, Tamara Jenkins, and More". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  8. ^ "Private Life". Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  9. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (August 7, 2018). "Elisabeth Moss Punk Rock Drama 'Her Smell' to Screen at New York Film Fest". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  10. ^ "Private Life". New York Film Festival. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  11. ^ Bechler, Michaela (August 10, 2018). "New Netflix Movies We're Excited About This Fall". Vogue. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  12. ^ "Private Life (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  13. ^ "Private Life Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  14. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (October 18, 2018). "Ethan Hawke's 'First Reformed' Leads Gotham Awards Nominations". Variety. Prometheus Global Media.
  15. ^ "2018 Awards Nominees". International Press Academy. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  16. ^ Kate Erbland (November 16, 2018). "2019 Independent Spirit Award Nominations". Indiewire.
  17. ^ "2018 SAFOCC Film Winners". Retrieved 31 December 2018.

External links[edit]