Babies

Babies

This documentary about four newborns from around the world is about as cute as you would expect it to be. It's also an essentially pointless movie. Balmès took his camera and crew to four different countries to track the first year of life, from birth to walking, of two boys and two girls. The boys - one from Namibia, one from Mongolia - are born to poor rural families (though their poverty, if not the dirtiness of their agrarian lives, is downplayed), while the girls - one from San Francisco, one from Tokyo - are only children who emerge into spotless, moneyed urban existences.

Babies is absent of any narration and indeed of any narrative. Balmès simply cuts back and forth between these tots as they do what babies do - cry, play, eat, and generally look adorable. It's fun for ten minutes, but for 79? Well... The film is not without its charms - my favorite moments are the ones in which the newborns interact with the family pets; in fact, the film could be titled Babies, and the Very Patient Animals Who Put Up With Them - and the cinematography is gorgeous, but there seems something cynical behind the making of this film, as though Balmès and his producers figured they could coast to box office riches on cuteness alone, their only message being "babies are the same all over the world". Nice idea, but as a result, the movie lacks substance.