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USA 2015
Directed by
Sebastian Silva
101 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Nasty Baby

Synopsis: The story of a single New Yorker, Polly (Kristen Wiig), trying to conceive a child from the sperm of, firstly, her gay friend Freddy (Silva), then his boyfriend, Mo (Tunde Adebimpe).

There is really only one word needed to describe writer-director Sebastián Silva’s film and that is “unfortunate”.  To explain why I say this I need to reference the plot so if you don’t want to know what happens in the film don’t read any further.

Polly works in a medical clinic and wears a white coat but it is not clear what she does there. Her friend Freddy is an installation artist making a video in which he, and then Polly and Mo, act out being a baby.  Of the artistic point of this we are not told. Unfortunately the gallery owner where Freddy planned to exhibit his piece is less than impressed which is entirely understandable as the results look like they are suffering from cerebral palsy. Freddy is badly miffed as a result and outside his remarkably charming Brooklyn brownstone building decks a crazy black guy (Reg E.Cathey) who has been bugging him constantly. Feeling repentant, he takes him up to his apartment to recover but when the black guy attacks him with a knife, he slashes the latter’s neck. Then Polly and Mo come home and Freddy and Mo finish off the black guy by suffocating him. They then dispose of the body with the help of a kindly neighbour (Mark Margolis) while Polly cleans up the mess.  The next day they reappear like the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man and head off down the street.

If the first two thirds of the film, with its gratuitous hand-held camera work and improvisatory type dialogue appears from the outset to be a familiar if-that's-your-sort-of-thing, self-satisfied indie-style portrait of contemporary metrosexual New York life for single 30-somethings, albeit with a seemingly very superficial take on the whole non-normative parenting thing, the final act is borderline ridiculous and seems to have been added from a very different film. Whatever these people think they are doing in bringing a baby into the world (it is very unclear who the baby is for, Polly or Freddy) they certainly aren’t killers (not least because they would be prime suspects and Blind Freddy, let alone a reasonably competent forensics team, would nail them in a heartbeat.

What Wiig is doing in this is a mystery but she adds a bit of appeal to what is otherwise an-ill-judged affair.  Adebimpe is a watchable presence but the geeky Silva is particularly annoying.  It may be his story but he would have been advised get someone with the ability to carry the central role so that he could concentrate on bringing off the potentially sound story, which he does not.




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