Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Babies

Babies

Rated: PG 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: May 7, 2010 Released by: Focus Features

An interesting look at one year in the life of four babies dweling on four different countries, in Mongolia, Namibia, Japan, and the United States is Thomas Balmes' documentary, Babies.

Like a Steven Soderbergh, the lauded filmmker did much of the "extended" four hundred days of lensing himself over a two-year period chronicling their entrance into the world until beginning to walk by themselves. The father of Hattie, the American baby, happens to be a cameraman, so she was filmed at times by him.

The early phase of "growing up" and "socialization" bears out nicely from a cross-cultural standpoint as the experiences and images make for an amusing, effective anthropological study that really doesn't wear out its welcome. Some may wonder about the casting and the issues associates with that, but that will probably be addressed when the end product reaches ancillary streams.

Perhaps intrinsically "cute" for some, this holistic cultural cinema has three/fourths of its "little ones" girls. It appeared that the filmmakers were influenced about parents obviously in a very good state about their new addition and the importance of not being disruptive to the families, especially in such an important period for all.

So, the early adventures of Bayarjargal with herding parents in Mongolia, Mari in Tokyo, Poniuao in Opuwo, Namibia, and Hattie in San Francisco are there to be enjoyed trying to establish their personal comfort zones. There are differences in the paces of lives and parents indulging infants to make a very amicable existence, whether in mudhuts, yurts, or with more material backing. Part of the positive, even-handed impact comes from the exclusion of commentary from the filmmakers suggesting the importance of cultural relativism.

In the end, Babies cries out endearingly as the creative process is an enlightening, if difficult struggle as the original idea by producer Alain Chabat pays off. It isn't about pandering or hectoring in a nice variety of choices to show this cinema verite on aspects of love and many emotions for those on their way towards making their first steps.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Babies        B               B+   B 

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