On Saturday aftertoon, my daughter dragged me to the cinema to watch Babies with her… I had no expectation about the movie and this was the right approach: the 75 minutes are like family videos with a good editing, with the difference that one takes place in a mud hut in Namibia and another one in a yourt in Mongolia. Chabat’s idea of resorting to animal documentaties to film the growing babies with no narrative, no dialogue and no story is interesting, except alas that we all have seen babies and, for some of us, watched them grow in real time. So as a “wildlife documentary” it does not work much better than a one-hour film about domestic cats. Especially the parts about Japan and the US. I think it would have helped if none of the families had been speaking English as the fact that we understand the parents in Hattie’s case distort our perspective on this family. The choice of having no story at all is coherent with the realisator’s perspective, but the resulting message is rather limited: the fact that kids grow up is universal, while their evolution depends on their current environment. Hmm, this is all?! No mention made of healthy life expectancy in Namibia being 44 or of the probability of dying under five being 6% (and of the corresponing figures of 58 and 4% in Mongolia, as opposed to 78 and 0.4% for Japan and 71 and 0.8% for the US)? Cute of course but definitely superficial.

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