For the first 60 minutes or so, even though I mostly enjoyed it, I really started to wonder what the heck it was doing at the /slash Filmfestival – and even though the twist towards the end satisfactorily answered this question, I still think that it would have been better suited for the Viennale. Strange programming decisions aside, however, I liked “Nasty Baby” quite a bit.
It took me a while to find my way into the movie, though. The beginning was a little weird, with Freddie’s very strange art projects where he behaves like a baby, and lets himself get filmed while doing that. The whole art project stuff, actually, was one of its worse ideas, and I’m not sure if it was really necessary. I didn’t think that it added anything to the movie, and the oracle-scene was far too weird, and really stood out in an otherwise rather down-to-earth movie. I guess, ultimately, I might have preferred a different profession for him than “weird artist”. There’s also never an explanation how said artist and his boyfriend, who works as a carpenter, can afford such a big apartment, and in New York, at that. It also took me a while to understand how everyone here is connected, and that both Freddy and David are close friends with Polly, who they chose as mother for their child. It’s less a “surrogate mother” and more a “patchwork family” thing, and for me, the scenes that focused on their relationship – and the oppositions that they face, sometimes even from family members – were the strongest of the movie. The three leads portray their respective roles – and their feelings for each other – very convincingly, with Kristen Wiig (who I so far mostly knew from comedies) a particular standout. The supporting cast is also quite good, especially Reg E. Cathey and Mark Margolis.
Thanks to their performances as well as the slow buildup, I really got to know – and like – those characters. Which is why when finally, something pretty bad happens, I really felt for them. One of my favorite things about “Nasty Baby” though is the shockingly sober and realistic way the movie, and the characters, deal with this. Thematically, there’s a big similarity to another movie from this years /slash Filmfestival, but to even mention its name would be too huge of a spoiler, so let me just state that in my opinion, “Nasty Baby” took the same concept and handled it a lot better. My only major complaint is that it took the movie a little too long to get there. Yes, with a shorter introduction, I probably wouldn’t have felt such a strong connection to the characters, but that doesn’t help to make the first 30 minutes or so any more gripping and/or entertaining. Ultimately, I think “Nasty Baby” could have afforded to trim a couple of scenes here and there without losing anything essential, and would have been all the better for it. Thanks to the great cast, the nice relationship between the three main characters as well as the very strong finale, I nevertheless would very much recommend it, especially for fans of slow, subdued dramas with thriller-elements.