It's the opening night feature at Hot Docs, the film that's had buzz for months and might just stop the rotation of the Earth when it hits screens on Mother's Day weekend and baby-fiend squeals burst forth. Babies is a smorgasbord, an extravaganza, a hootenanny of baby moments in a 79-minute package. For many, a review is irrelevant. The tyke-filled trailer was enough with its giggle-worthy moments, sure to please moms and baby fans alike with its subject matter. But for those not instantly charmed by cherubic faces and drooling, Babies can easily become a long and occasionally tedious journey.
French filmmaker Thomas Balmes follows the first year of life for four babies. There's Hattie in San Francisco, a blondie girl born to eco-conscious, hands-on parents, Bayarjargal (Bayar) in Mongolia, the second son of a family living in a yurt surrounded by fields, Mari in Tokyo, a little girl and only child to a metropolitan couple, and Ponijao in Namibia, a daughter with eight older brothers and sisters, part of the Himba tribe. That, right there, is more information than you'll ever get out of the film itself. Balmes chooses to simply introduce the baby's names and locations, and then lets the film unfold silently, occasionally boosted by a score from Bruno Coulais.