Eleanor soon realises that she is pregnant, at last, after many months of effort. However Eleanor refuses to give her husband the good tidings because she doesn't intend to have the child, fearing following her mother into the grave. When an amateur potion doesn't have the required abortive effect, Gwyneth (the local midwife) is brought in by Eleanor's loyal servants. Although she is more experienced at keeping mother and child alive, Gwyneth agrees to help if Lady Eleanor will use her power for a special favour. The old midwife has been incarcerated by the fanatical church inquisitor on charges of devil worship. These accusations are plainly false (more of a case of the church not wanting women to become too independent).
This pact leads Eleanor into direct conflict with both her husband and the church, higher powers that are content to keep women subjugated. As Eleanor and Gwyneth spend time together, they come to the realisation that there is more between them than simple friendship. For such times these are dangerous feelings, no matter how natural they appear. Using the excuse that Eleanor has been enchanted by the old midwife, her husband confines her to the tower and has the accused witch hanged. Eleanor reveals her condition in a last ditch attempt to help but this just makes the Lord even more protective. Gwyneth is forced to leave and it seems that their budding relationship is over.
Quite simply a lesbian love story, the pity is that The Midwife's Tale never manages to stretch beyond this single point. By virtue of the medieval setting, this "forbidden" love is something that can only be approached with metaphors and meaningful looks. However, this is no excuse for such a lacklustre script. Unlike most stories there are no emotional peaks and troughs to pull us through, and make us care for the characters, only a swell gentle enough to upset no one. The uniformly poor acting doesn't help matters, with stilted action only highlighting how stereotypical the characters are. Completing the circle of problems with uninspiring settings, such that the bustling, lively and interesting castle comes across more like a deserted, cardboard toy, the result is an uninvolving and disappointing movie. The lesson from this is that a lesbian love story is fine, but there has to be an interesting and exciting film built around it, otherwise why bother?