MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Nasty Baby’ Is An Unforgettable, Albeit Flawed Film

nasty-baby-review

Film: Nasty Baby
Starring: Tunde Adebimpe, Kristen Wiig
Directed by: Sebastián Silva

Nasty Baby may be the most surprising movie of the year, but to discuss why that might be true would be to ruin what is sure to be a one-of-a-kind experience for even the most dedicated cinephile.

Filmmaker Sebastián Silva stars alongside Tunde Adebimpe and Kristen Wiig in a story of three friends trying to navigate the often troublesome world of creating a life. It’s an unusual reality from the very get-go, but it’s one brought to life beautifully through Silva’s unique eye for presentation. Their lives take place in New York City, amidst a community bursting with memorable characters, and though you may think you know where the film is heading, there is a very sinister subplot whose impact will irrevocably change the course of each character’s life, as well as the relationships between them. Again, I don’t want to give it away, but it’s one twist that I will say is assuredly not for the faint of heart.

Two years have passed since Silva treated the world to a double dose of well-crafted Michael Cera-led oddities with Crystal Fairy and Magic Magic. I don’t want to say the time away has helped him improve his narrative writing, as his one-of-a-kind take on reality is as present as ever, but I do believe Nasty Baby to be his most focused work to date. There is a feeling that anything could happen at all times, and despite that Silva still finds a way to catch audiences off guard.

He doesn’t do it alone, of course. Tunde Adebimpe and Kristen Wiig bring a pair of very believable and interesting characters to life in Nasty Baby, each serving as a compliment to the troubled artist Silva portrays. The camaraderie is believable from the moment they first interact on screen, but what sells their performance is the individual identities they establish in addition to their strong group dynamic. You never have enough time to spend with each cast member on their own, but you’re given just enough to relate to each in a different way. Silva makes it a point to do this, it seems, so that his final twist will have a greater impact. Needless to say, he succeeds.

The only question one might have after seeing Nasty Baby is whether or not the final twist is justified, and if so what purpose it might serve in the larger narrative. While the shock value goes without saying, the implications of the act itself will most likely change how most viewers feel towards certain characters, if not everyone in the story. Such turns would be incredibly risky in any story, but presented here alongside an otherwise unassuming tale of three people trying to create a life, the difficulty of making it work feels even greater. Whether or not Silva pulls it off will likely be the debate of many future movie snob conversations, but for me it made what would normally be a quickly forgotten drama something I will be referencing for years to come.

GRADE: C+

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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