"Babies" -- a beautiful portrait of new life

  • May 12th, 2010 10:22 pm CT
Bayar, one of the titular stars of "Babies"
Photo: Image courtesy of Focus Features

French director Thomas Balmes has here crafted an extraordinary film—a patchwork, narrator-less documentary that tells its own story of birth, growth, and discovery on the part of the four little ones who star in this unique and memorable offering. What that one-line synopsis can’t illustrate for you—nor will the rest of this written review be able to—is that this movie is full of must-see-for-yourself moments that, with utter simplicity and innocence, in essence capture in visual form that perpetually unnamable but oh so consistently present feeling of joy that makes pretty much every person who has ever lived stand in awe of the perfect creation that children are.

The quintuplets (not literally) featured throughout the picture are each from completely different families, situations, and cultures—Panijao, born and bred in the bush of Namibia; Bayar, the newest member of a semi-nomadic Mongolian family of sheep and cattle herders; Hattie, the first child of a happy San Francisco couple; and Mari, the daughter of two young Japanese parents living in the sprawling metropolis that is Tokyo. As mentioned above, their stories are told in a very loose format of long takes and little to no dialogue—save what is offered up the parents and other bystanders… and the babies themselves, of course—and the process of sporadically jumping from one scene to the next without any real sense of direction works very well with this subject matter. Indeed, the entirety of the screen time goes to the kids and their families interacting and growing together, and the absolute lack of bells and whistles thus transforms this particular effort into what can perhaps be called ‘pure art,’ and an absolutely stellar and true to its genre and classification tag of ‘documentary.’

Due again to the basic and pleasant composition of this one, there isn’t anything else to say—as my faithful readers, I will simply encourage you to see this film; whether the avenue of said aesthetic and emotionally fulfilling viewing experience be the theater or your own home come hard release, Babies is one of those rare instances of popular media that actually makes the audience sit back and reflect (positively) on the beauty of life—from its very beginning and on.

Reviewer’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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By Derek Kester

Derek Kester is an enthusiastic moviegoer who thoroughly enjoys watching a film and then sitting down to write about it afterwards. By bringing...

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