Nasty Baby (2015)

Nasty Baby (2015)
  • Time: 100 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Sebastián Silva
  • Cast: Kristen Wiig, Alia Shawkat, Mark Margolis


A close-knit trio navigates the idea of creating life, while at the same time being confronted with a brutal scenario that causes them to take a life.

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  • Nasty Baby is the title of writer-director Sebastián Silva’s latest film as well as the name of the performance art project by conceptual artist and protagonist Freddy (Silva). The concept of the piece has Freddy stripping off his clothes and reverting to his infantile state, cooing and crying and rolling around on the ground.

    “Nasty Baby” is the price Freddy wants to pay for wanting to have a baby of his own rather than adopting one of the thousands of children abandoned by their parents. Much of the film centers on his attempt to conceive with best friend and potential surrogate Polly (Kristen Wiig). When they discover that his sperm count is too low, they look to Freddy’s partner Mo (Tunde Adebimpe) to contribute his seed. Mo, the calm center to Freddy’s temperamental storm, is initially hesitant but eventually gives in.

    In the meantime, the couple have to deal with Bishop (Reg E. Cathey), an unstable neighbourhood man who irritates Freddy by using a leaf blower in the early hours of the morning. Bishop is unpredictable, but he’s not an unfamiliar presence in the type of big city neighbourhood in which Nasty Baby takes place. He can be nice enough, but his obliviousness to personal and physical boundaries can be threatening, especially when one is walking around late at night. One such menacing encounter with Polly results in a not-entirely unforeseen turn of events.

    Silva is attempting intriguing here, asking viewers to invest in these characters and then to call into question exactly who we have been watching all along. Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing is a reference point, but so is Seinfeld in the sense that we are spending time with people who are actually deeply unlikable and who are dominated by petty grievances. The violence that bursts the second half of the film feels organic given the not-so-subtle undercurrent of conflict that permeates the first half.

    Nasty Baby is admirable for its intentions and certainly remarkable for its welcoming attitude for its central trio, who represent the new normal in modern society. Yet none of this negates the fact that the film drains one’s patience, taking too long to lay bare its provocations. It’s not surprising that the film was created from a 20-page outline rather than a structured screenplay – its loose construction is exasperating as is the home video quality of the cinematography. Silva is well within his right to blatantly disregard audience expectations, but that does not excuse the execution, which borders on the unprofessional.

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