Bébé(s) [Babies] (2010)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Bébé(s)</strong> [<strong class="MovieTitle">Babies</strong>] (2010)

(On DVD, February 2012) Being a newly-minted dad is the best feeling in the world, but holding a squirming, sometimes-crying two-weeks-old isn’t so good for movie-watching.  Eventually, I figured that the most appropriate film to watch while rocking back-and-forth would be a narration-less documentary about babies that I would set on fast-forward and appreciate without sound.  I suspect that Babies is one of those films that is enhanced by being at a certain place in life: I probably wouldn’t have been so endeared to the stories of four babies from around the world (Namibia; Mongolia; Tokyo; San Francisco) had I not been cradling my own daughter in my arms at the time.  Still, Babies achieves its own objectives: By showing the first year of life of four very different babies, it’s enough to tell us about the differences and the commonalities between every one of us.  By opposing third-world laissez-faire to first-world overprotectiveness, it suggests that all kinds of experiences are equally valid in bringing up baby.  Depending solely on natural sound rather than trying to impose a redundant narration, Babies also chooses to rely heavily on spectacular cinematography: from a purely visual standpoint, there is a lot to appreciate here, especially in third-world locations.  A few moments of humor also enliven the film, perhaps the funniest being a goat drinking up a Mongolian baby’s bathwater.  While Babies doesn’t feel particularly deep or insightful, it does manage to reach and maybe even exceed its own goals, and the result is perfect for a new-parent’s gift basket.

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