Wednesday, May 05, 2010
BABIES (Dir. Thomas Balmes, 2010)
How can I write a review of this movie without sounding like a hater?
I guess it's not possible because the bottom line is I'm just not into babies. In fact today my wife and I told a doctor that we are 100% certain that we are never going to have kids - that's all I'm going to say about that situation here.
So the idea of a documentary made up completely of shots of babies really didn't appeal to me, enough that I almost skipped the screening. I decided to try to be open as a film lover and a documentary lover and check it out regardless.
Hate to say that it was exactly what I thought it would be, only somehow much duller. But if you like babies, like most of the population seems to, you may find the footage of 4 separate babies from 4 different corners of the world (San Francisco, Toyko, Namibia, and Mongolia) delightful.
We're given little information apart from titles indicating locations and times (only a few of those) as Balmes cuts back and forth from the babies. There is no narrator and very little English is spoken by one of the sets of parents. It's just babies crying (happily this is kept to a minimum), babies crawling, babies harassing animals (also animals harassing babies), babies sleeping, and an unbearable amount of clips of babies doing nothing but being babies.
There is some context in the manner of culture clashing. Balmes goes from one baby lying on an expensive carpet being dabbed by a parent with a lint roller to another baby shown playing in the dirt of their impoverished village fiddling with rocks and bits of bones. As it's used throughout the film, a little of this sort of contrast goes a long way. BABIES is a definitive "is it what it is" movie - I'm inclined to say if you like babies you'll like it, but I suspect hardcore baby lovers might get bored too.
Even at its merciful 79 minute running time it feels too lengthy and I sure didn't learn anything new from it. Learning something new is the main reason I love documentaries. The best ones shape footage into an insightful narrative giving you a fresh portrait of their subjects, but BABIES is just blandly basic and never justifies its existence for being.
It's like an annoying parent who over estimates their offspring's cuteness over and over. Then again I'm just a baby basher - what do I know?