Grace Rhodes (Lisa Eichhorn) is an unmarried New York advertising executive. Around forty years old, she decides that she wants a child and has no more time to find the right man. She becomes a client of Cryogenetics Sperm Bank and conceives by donor insemination.

As soon as she is pregnant, she becomes obsessed with learning more about the sperm donor, and her friend, Elaine, helps her by taking on a temp job at the sperm bank and breaking into their files, discovering the identity of Grace's donor, a photographer named Peter Kessler (Stanley Tucci). He is single, having an affair with a married woman, and his landscape photographs never include human figures because, he says, "people mess up the composition."

Grace visits Peter's upstate New York studio. They meet, become friends, and then begin dating. Grace tells him she is pregnant and that he is the child's donor father. He is outraged and throws her out. Months pass, and Peter arrives in New York to apologize to Grace, who is now heavily pregnant. He gives her a photograph he had taken, of her. The film ends ambiguously, but suggests that they will become a couple and parent the child together.


This film plays out a fantasy, romanticizing and idealizing the sperm donor, allowing him to be seen not as an irrevocably anonymous source of gametes (which is still usually the case), but as a human being with which the recipient (and her child) may be able to have a relationship. Both donor and recipient are presented as hard-working loners, unable to have healthy relationships with others. Peter calls himself an "orphan" but later admits that his parents are alive, but just "weren't very good parents." Grace's mother is dead, and her elderly father wants to know when the father will "make an honest woman" of her. Grace tells Elaine of her losing battle to see donor insemination as an "act of liberation" rather than of "desperation."

When Peter learns that Grace is pregnant as a result of his sperm donation, he is quick to defend his right to complete detachment: "You got yourself into this situation," he tells her. "You're going to have to get yourself out. I'm not going to take responsibility for your baby." The film presents this avoidance of consequences as a typical--and unhealthy--attitude taken by sperm donors.

Elaine's illegal intervention solves the problem by forcing Peter to recognize the real implications of what he calls his "other job," donating. While we are expected to sympathize with Peter's anger at this invasion of his privacy, the film's conclusion suggests that it was necessary in order to humanize him, and to humanize the conception of the baby. There is little interest in Grace's experience of pregnancy or in the future of the child as anything other than a means to bring Grace and Peter together. The film, purporting to present "a modern affair," struggles to bring donor insemination into the safe fold of the conventional romance narrative.

Primary Source

Columbia Tristar Home Video