I finally caught the French documentary Babies, which documents the first year in the lives of four babies from around the world: Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco, and Tokyo.
The filmmaker uses an observational approach (putting the camera in a location and recording what happens without narration and other conventional narrative techniques). This is an approach a normally favor, but instead of giving the viewer a sense of daily life here, the focus seems to be on highlighting universal cuteness.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that – cute is cute, after all – but I found more interesting the cultural differences that arise from glimpses at the lifestyles of the four families. This also gave me an uncomfortable understanding of why my now-nearly-grown-up son has always called me overprotective.
This film is definitely pretty to look at and entertaining at moments, but I prefer a more substantive narrative to really pull me into a documentary and keep me there long after the credits have rolled.