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.


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