Ninjababy

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Ninjababy
"Like last year's Baby Done and 2019's Saint Frances this is a thoroughly modern consideration of impending motherhood that doesn't shy away from subjects like casual sex and allows the mother not to be consumed by sudden maternal instinct."

This enjoyably offbeat Norwegian comedy drama, that premiered in SXSW and is showing at Edinburgh Film Festival uses animation to accentuate the emotional experience of the hard partying Rakel (Kristine Kujath Thorp, who has the look of a young Andrea Riseborough and the acting ability to match). What's to come is signalled by a sketch of the home she shares with her flatmate Ingrid (Tora Christine Dietrichson), which brands Rakel's room Trash-o-rama.

She might be a hot mess but Rakel's also ambitious, with her sketches indicating her desires include being a comic book artist and an astronaut. What she doesn't want to be, however, is heavily pregnant - and given how flat her stomach is, it's no wonder it comes as a shock.

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Once Rakel realises it's too late to have an abortion, she begins to have conversations with her "stealthy" unborn ninjababy, who pops up in hand-drawn and, later, collage, animation by Inga Sætre, on whose graphic novel Fallteknikk the film is loosely based. Nothing is one-sided about this as the baby, voice by Herman Tømmeraas doesn't hold back in his opinions of what should - and should not happen - before and after his birth, saving special opprobrium for the lifestyle and poster choices of his father, who Rakel has dubbed "Dick Jesus" (played by Arthur Berning).

The animation breaks through beyond the baby, encapsulating Rakel's mental state, showing sparks starting to fly as her attraction to the sweetly attentive aikido instructor Mos (Nader Khademi) grows or scribbling out the face of her friend when she doesn't want to listen to what she has to say. Like last year's Baby Done and 2019's Saint Frances this is a thoroughly modern consideration of impending motherhood that doesn't shy away from subjects like casual sex and allows the mother not to be consumed by sudden maternal instinct.

Director Yngvild Sve Flikke, has stepped lightly up from television work to films, with this her second outing - even if she is a little too wedded to montage - and along with co-writer Johan Fasting she keeps the sharp scripting coming as the farcical situation between Mos, Dick Jesus and Rakel grows. Despite the comedy, the director never loses sight of the human side of all this, finding unexpected poignancy as Rakel forges a way forward that is sweetly unpredictable and defies easy or pat resolution but is satisfying on its own terms.

Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2021
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Ninjababy packshot
When a woman discovers she is unexpectedly pregnant her unborn baby proves unexpectedly animated in the conversation department.

Festivals:

BIFF 2021
EIFF 2021

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If you like this, try:

Baby Done
The Cop Baby
Saint Frances