Feature

Babies

French director Thomas Balmès documents the lives of four infants from four different parts of the world: Japan, Namibia, Mongolia, and the United States.

Directed by Thomas Balmès
(PG)

***
A documentary follows four babies in different parts of the world.

Babies is a “sugar rush of irresistible cute joy,” said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. This “crowd-pleasing” documentary from French director Thomas Balmès follows four infants from four dramatically different parts of the world: Japan, Namibia, Mongolia, and the United States. Starting with birth and ending with first steps, his cinematic scrapbook lets audiences track one year of the little ones’ lives. To Balmès’ credit, Babies doesn’t “overdose on adorability”: He lets their days unfold without narration, expert commentary, or a too-strict structure. Without such narrative threads, however, this elaborate undertaking comes to seem like a gigantic “lost opportunity,” said Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News. Balmès refuses to raise provocative questions about cultural differences and conflicting parenting theories, so you start to “wonder why you’ve paid to see somebody else’s home movies.” Besides being a “very huggable movie experience,” Babies does have plenty to say, said Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. By showing rather than telling, the film avoids distracting details and instead celebrates the universal experiences of infancy and parenthood.

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