Good films can sometimes sneak up on you when you least expect it, and as Ninjababy proves, sometimes so can babies.
When Rakel finds out she’s six months pregnant after a not-so-romantic one-night stand, her world changes. Faced with the knowledge that not only does she not know who she wants to be, but also the consequences of a wild lifestyle whilst unaware she was pregnant, the film looks at the myriad of emotions involved with a surprise pregnancy.
The film’s tone is outstanding, within the first 30 minutes I had lost count of how many loud cackles had escaped me, not least provoked by a ‘this is Mamma Mia’ comment from Rakel’s roommate. It balances the delicate story with a fierce wit and sarcasm only exemplified through the use of animation scattered throughout the film as Ninjababy comes to life.
Kristine Kujath Thorp plays Rakel with enviable ease. She’s able to showcase the full spectrum of human emotion, sometimes within just one scene as shown in the doctor’s office as she arrives for a termination of what she thinks is an 8-week pregnancy. There are no small parts or easy wins, but Thorp anchors the whole film with a carefree but deeply nuanced performance. Rakel is lost, a quitter, always messy and late but still managing to scrape by. Through Thorp’s wonderful portrayal she also has heart, soul, and an undercurrent of sadness and loss. Her bond with the animated Ninjababy as he judges her choices of adoptive parents taunts her lifestyle, it would be lost on a lesser actress.
Likewise, the supporting cast are equally strong with Nader Khademi playing an adorably charming potential suitor and Tora Christine Dietrichson as long-suffering but ever-supportive roommate Ingrid. The cast feels warm and full, all blending wonderful chemistry with Thorp and pushing the films sharp script to higher levels.
Films about pregnancy are rife, films about unwanted pregnancy becoming more commonplace. Ninjababy focuses on the rare and often untold story of surprise pregnancies, and amongst its fierce humour and romantic interludes, it also shows the serious implications such a pregnancy can have on a woman and the toll on mental wellbeing that can take place. Yngvild Sve Flikke directed and co-wrote the film, not shying away from the taboo, the painful and the traumatic.
A surprising gem of a film, landing at SXSW by way of Norway, Ninjababy has instantly found itself in my list of the year’s best. Fresh, honest, upbeat and raw, Ninjababy is a stealth attack of wonder.
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