Review: ‘Baby’

A post-Dogme, digi-shot melodrama about orphaned sisters dwelling in Copenhagen's underworld, "Baby" felt a lack of love from domestic audiences on release in Denmark last August. The rejection isn't surprising given pic's downbeat, hackneyed plot, although there are redeeming grace notes in strong perfs from a recognizable cast, snappy editing and quirky country-meets-electro score. International distributors brave enough to adopt this "Baby" could find it a problem child, even on the specialist circuit.

A post-Dogme, digi-shot melodrama about two orphaned sisters dwelling in Copenhagen’s underworld, “Baby” felt a lack of love from domestic audiences on release in Denmark last August. The rejection isn’t surprising given pic’s downbeat, hackneyed plot, although there are redeeming grace notes in strong perfs from a recognizable cast, snappy editing and quirky country-meets-electro score. International distributors brave enough to adopt this “Baby” could find it a problem child, even on the specialist circuit.

Opening with a flurry of crisscrossing story lines, pic revolves mainly around Leni (striking Maria Rich, from “Minor Mishaps”), who earns a crust composing subtitles for foreign porn films and writes poetry on the side. Her pervy loan-shark ex-husband Eddy (Jesper Christensen) wants her back, and is himself being stalked by Leni’s teenage sister, Nova (Line Kruse), a junkie streetwalker. The stronger plotline of Nova’s road trip with another runaway teen (Emily Yatman) that ends in violence contrasts with so-what story of a couple (Ida Laub Oxen, Ulrich Thomsen, latter from Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Celebration”) struggling with rising debts. Pic’s overall grubby lensing isn’t helped by poor transfer from DV. Other tech credits are adequate.

Baby

Denmark

Production

A Miracle Film Distribution presentation of a Babyfilm production, in association with Danish Film Institute, Filmkonsultant Vince Niedmann, Dansk Skuespillar Forbunds Kollektive Bankbondsmidler, Dankse Filminstruktorers Kollektive Bankbondsmidler, Dankse Dramatikeres Kollective Bankbondsmidler. (International sales: Danish Film Institute, Copenhagen.) Produced by Louise Jannicke. Directed by Linda Wendel. Screenplay, Wendel, Kirsten Thorup, based on a novel by Thorup.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Henrik Ipsen, Lars Skree; editor, Anders Refn; music, Sort Sol; production designers, Sudse Faerk, Dorte Kairke Madelung; costumes, Ditte Pedresen. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (Nordic Light), Jan. 25, 2004. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Maria Rich, Line Kruse, Jesper Christensen, Ulrich Thomsen, Kenneth Carmohn, Ida Laub Oxen, Emily Yatman.
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