Crossing the relatable narcissism of The Worst Person in the World with the awkward yet well-intentioned heart of Obvious Child, the uniquely titled pregnancy dramedy Ninjababy is an absolute winner.
Ninjababy is another story of a blindsided, irresponsible woman who is dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, but what sets Yngvild Sve Flikke’s film apart from similar company is its depiction of unwavering selfishness. Flikke (who also co-wrote the screenplay) also doesn’t compromise the story to fit an expected coming-of-age resolution. When Rakel (Kristine Kujath Thorp) finds out that she’s too far into her pregnancy to get an abortion and will have to carry and deliver the baby to full term, she doesn’t take “no” as an answer and, aggressively, tries to compromise with the doctor. The scene, which is delivered in a darkly comedic tone, perfectly encapsulates Ninjababy.
To Rakel, a party girl who has ambitions of being a professional cartoonist, there is nobody else that matters in her world other than herself. And while that’s a frustrating leading character for the audience to stick with, Thorp’s convincing performance subtly hints at the absurdity of that mindset while also justifying why Rakel would believe that way of life. The scathing selfishness and the wry humour ensues when Rakel is challenged. The viewer can feel her rage and bafflement when the baby’s father, an infrequent one-night stand she refers to as “Dick Jesus” (Arthur Berning), tries to blame Rakel on the pregnancy because she didn’t request specifically where he should’ve “finished”. The inclusion of an animated version of the unborn child (Ninjababy, amusingly voiced by Herman Tømmeraas) provides more confrontational exchanges for Rakel. The quirky co-star takes some adjusting to considering Flikke doesn’t necessarily suggest Rakel has a wild imagination, but the hyperactive character has some funny zingers that allow Rakel to be more introspective.
Ninjababy has some trigger warnings, especially given the nasty attitudes directed towards the unborn as well as some pregnancy complications in the third act. But despite being “out there” as it deliberately finds ways to be unappealing on its surface, Ninjababy is a fantastic character study on difficult people.
Ninjababy is now available to stream at the digital TIFF Bell Lightbox.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie