Tuesday Review – Baby Done (2020)

films, reviews

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I think this week is going to be a busy book week so I considered not doing a Tuesday Review again. However, I knew that if I avoided it today then I’d set a precedent that would allow me to miss it whenever I wanted. Considering that I’ve gone from reviewing 2 films a week, it wouldn’t be long until I was only posting book reviews. I’m reading more now than I ever have but I’d still only be reading enough for 2 reviews a week. It’s quite a step down from doing 5 a week in 2020. So, I decided to stop complaining and watch a damn film this weekend. This is one I was interested in watching as soon as I watched the trailer. I like Rose Matafeo and Matthew Lewis is obviously pretty cool. Then there’s the fact that it has Taika Waititi’s seal of approval. Surely it had to be worth a watch?

As a woman in my early 30s, I feel like I’m in a good position to watch this film. As soon as you hit 30 society just expects you to start going baby mad. At a recent medical appointment my doctor asked if I was planning on having children soon. My initial reaction was to laugh because, in my head, that’s a ridiculous notion. Yet, at my age, it’s perfectly reasonable to already have children or, at least, be planning for it. So, I think it’s safe to say that I’m still pretty baby phobic. I’ve always been awkward around children and had gone out of my way to avoid being near them. I’d always find myself conveniently predisposed whenever someone I knew asked if I wanted to hold their baby for fear of doing it wrong. I can’t be trusted with a tiny human. I can barely keep myself going let alone anyone else. So, a film about a young woman who is struggling to come to terms with having a baby is something I can get on board with.

Although, Zoe, the film’s protagonist, isn’t worried about being a rubbish mum. She’s not even that against having a baby. What she is having trouble accepting is that her life is suddenly going to change. As soon as she gets her positive test result, she imagines her entire life changing and all of aspirations being put on pause. Working as an arborist, Zoe’s current dream is to compete in the world tree climbing championships. So, to start with, she hides her news from her partner, Tim. He’s a fellow arborist and she knows that he’d prevent her from competing. Of course, Tim finds out and the pair are suddenly making their way to baby town. While Tim is worrying about being a good dad and making sensible plans, Zoe is trying to use whatever time she has left to do all the things she wants to before its too late. Even if this means going against all medical advice.

Admittedly, the idea of becoming a world tree climbing champion won’t really resonate with everyone watching this film but the basic concept is sound. This is a film that speaks to everyone who is worried about losing their identity and their lives when they start having children. As Zoe tells Tim at a friend’s baby shower early on in the film, the life trajectory goes “marriage, house, baby, done”. She isn’t worried about children as such but she is terrified of becoming a mum. Of no longer being able to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. She’s concerned that her best friend won’t stick around and that she’ll become just like all the other mothers she knows. These are all realistic enough issues but the film pushes it to the extremes. We follow Zoe through the later stages of her pregnancy but she never really accepts what’s happening to her. It gets a bit ridiculous at times but the film always retains enough charm to carry it off.

Both Rose Matafeo and Matthew Lewis are well cast here. Matafeo is witty and amiable as Zoe. She spends a lot of the film being fairly selfish and self-centred, so the actor does a really good job of making her seem like a good person. Zoe is the kind of person that you’d want to hang out with and she is a welcoming presence on screen. Lewis is, once again, playing the nice guy. It’s a pleasant enough performance but he’s not exactly doing anything that great or new. There is some decent chemistry between the pair and there is some good banter between the two. They are aided by a pretty strong script and good pacing. Put all together, these things pull of something wonderful. Added to the laidback production, Baby Done is quite the charming film. You get drawn into the lives of these characters and there is very little in the way of flair to distract you.

Although, my only quibble is the direction the later sections of the film goes. It decides that there isn’t enough to keep the audience occupied so it tries to up the stakes a bit. This is where the film starts taking the more cliched route to its finale and is the biggest let down. It just gets a bit messy and there are too many rogue elements getting in the way. It’s not as if the whole film is derailed but it should have been a bit neater. It ends up being a pretty good mix of comedy and drama and it expertly switches between the two. You end up caring for these people and you want them to have everything they want. Of course, you also want to bash their heads together and tell them to stop being so stubborn. All in all, this was just a lovely film to watch. It’s silly and funny and the perfect thing for our pandemic stricken world.

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