CATEGORIES Reviews
It's called 'Babies' and babies are exactly what you get in this new documentary. French director Thomas Balmes shows four infants -- from Japan, Mongolia, Namibia, and the United States -- as they step -- er, crawl, if you will -- into the world around them. It's a world of discovery and sensory perception as the tots grow and find out who they are.

Balmes includes no narration or special effects; just the kids from birth to walking age and the communities and cultures that surround them. It's the miracle of life, from the mundane to the magical. Just in time for Mother's Day, too.

French cinema star Alain Chabat is the producer. Read what the critics say: It's called 'Babies' and babies are exactly what you get in this new documentary. French director Thomas Balmes shows four infants -- from Japan, Mongolia, Namibia, and the United States -- as they step -- er, crawl, if you will -- into the world around them. It's a world of discovery and sensory perception as the tots grow and find out who they are.

Balmes includes no narration or special effects; just the kids from birth to walking age and the communities and cultures that surround them. It's the miracle of life, from the mundane to the magical. Just in time for Mother's Day, too.

French cinema star Alain Chabat is the producer. Here's what the critics say:

Chicago Tribune: "As with '101 Dalmatians,' audience members who succumb to 'Babies' no doubt will be tempted to get one of their own. Balmes and his cinematographers have created a documentary deserving of the title 'World's Most Contemplative Home Videos,' with better lighting, no wisecracking set-ups (no narration at all, in fact) and less abrasive music."

Variety: "The overall effect is at once highly absorbing and oddly dislocating, which makes sense, given the inherent aspects of direct cinema: It tends to raise as many questions as it answers. In the Namibian and Mongolian segments, for instance, a viewer might be inclined to wonder where the father is, as there's little evidence of one (the press notes explain that the dads are away tending to their cattle)."

Roger Ebert: "If, however, you've raised children and/or grandchildren, or had little brothers and sisters, the movie may resemble 79 minutes of unpaid baby-sitting. When Baby Mari starts screaming, you're wishing you could turn on the TV and use something bright and noisy as a distraction. But no, you're at a movie."

'Babies' trailer


Entertainment Weekly:
"Balmès is a very, very passive documentarian: no narration, no talking heads, and not much editorial decisiveness, either. He just sets up the camera and lets the first year of life unfold, from birth to baby steps. Even the cultural differences aren't rubbed in our faces."

The Hollywood Reporter: "Whether the setting is a tribal village (Namibia), a grassy plain (Mongolia) or mommy-and-me classes (Japan and the U.S.), the babies start off gaping and gurgling like visiting otherworldly creatures. Three of them live with loving cats that would make Hemingway proud, and the Namibian baby, Ponijao, shares open-mouthed kisses with a patient yellow dog. She and her mother steal the show with the straightforward force of their bond and their sheer personality."

Orlando Sentinel: "Cats and dogs all over the world suffer the newborns with the same resigned patience. And big brothers jab or yank the new sibling until it cries and then don the universal 'Who me?' look. Director Thomas Balmes and his editors find moments of humor in 'discoveries' or the unfettered urinating of a baby brought up without diapers."

Associated Press: "It's a bold storytelling approach: Balmes runs the risk of alienating his audience members, the vast majority of whom won't be able to understand what's being said. 'Babies' frequently lacks momentum because there's no strong narrative drive, just an easy, casual stroll from baby to baby, moment to moment."