The title says it all. We follow four babies through the first year of their lives. The hook is that the babies live in four wildly different environments: Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and San Francisco (Oakland, really).
The scenes are intercut without the baggage of a forced storyline, narration or subtitles, but the message is clear: a baby who is loved will love back.
The most common response to this film is a visceral reaction to the various settings. I’ve heard people say they wanted to scream “Swat those flies away,” or “There’s a chicken on the baby’s bed!” But that’s half the fun and one can only imagine how African audiences would think of our overly pampered environments.
A minor controversy erupted over the fact that filmmakers staged environments so that there would be minimal interaction from parents and barely any dialogue, which stirs the pot about how involved a documentary filmmaker should get when setting the stage. But come on, the movie is called Babies. If it makes you feel better, don’t think of this as a documentary so much as a visual essay, and as such, it’s charming and illuminating. (Focus)
— DENNIS WILLIS