Nasty Baby (2015 Sundance)

26 Mar

Veteran indie director Sebastian Silva (Magic Magic, Crystal Fairy) makes his return to the Sundance Film Festival with his latest entry Nasty Baby. Like he does with his previous films, Silva expertly creates a blend of genre fare and ultra-realism into something striking, bold, and memorable.

The story centers around a trio of characters living in central Brooklyn. Silva plays Freddy, a gay performance artist living with his partner Mo (Tunde Adebimpe from TV On The Radio fame). The two are desperate to have a child and team up with Polly (Kristen Wiig) who has agreed to have the child via surrogate. Unfortunately, Freddy’s sub-par sperm puts the shy-but-likable Mo under considerable pressure.  The film follows this trio’s baby delhema along with certain characters from the neighborhood including a fellow artist Wendy (Alia Shawkat), oldtimer Richard (Mark Margolis) and a grumpy homophobic man known as “The Bishop” (Reg E. Cathey). Nasty Baby proceeds as a witty, dialogue driven, Noah Baumbach-esc urban comedy until tragedy strikes within the neighborhood and things take a dark turn.

Always one to embrace natural performances, Silva directs the characters with an incredibly fluidity and gives an amazing debut performance himself. The script (also by Silva) is fantastic; interactions between our progressive trio of Polly, Mo, and Freddy feel so alive and fresh, giving the film an exciting, serendipitous quality. Things aren’t sugar-sweet for long however, as the film takes a bizarre tonal shift during its third act, guaranteeing to leave some viewers feeling cheated or manipulated. Despite the sudden brashness of it’s ending, Silva has created something truly bold within the recent subgenre that I like to call “urban millennials in a crisis”.

Bottom Line: With engaging dialogue and some killer performances, Nasty Baby really struck a chord with me, and should stand out as another original (but incredibly divisive) work from one of the most exciting new directors out there.

Rating – 7/10 

Film Recipe: Rachel Getting Married (2008) + Magic Magic (2013) + Hesher (2010) + Progressive Lifestyles 


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