“Ninjababy”: Pregnancy and motherhood without sweeteners

the tone is set ninja baby Don’t make a spike. And what a refreshment! Finally there is a story about pregnancy and motherhood without artificial sweeteners and without falling into the schoolboy way surprise pregnancy.

This is Rachel. Rakel lives in Oslo. It is chaotic, immature, excessive and full of wild ideas. She drinks too much when she goes out and occasionally likes to spice up her beer with hallucinogenic mushrooms. She dreams of becoming an astronaut, beer taster, globetrotter, lumberjack or even an illustrator. Mainly illustrator. But these more or less realistic dreams fizzle out when her roommate Ingrid points out that she has gained breasts, swallows liters of fruit juice she does not normally drink and that she has developed an exaggerated sense of smell. Yes, Rakel is pregnant. Finally no “Aikido-Mos” with whom she spent a night a few weeks ago. To her great desperation, she is already six and a half months pregnant. Therefore, the father turns out to be “Dick Jesus” and an abortion is impossible. Then what to do? That’s the question Rakel has in her head, but a little baby ninja, the penciled incarnation of her future child, escapes her imagination to torment her even more.

The scathing and uncompromising humor of illustrator Inga H. Sætre, who wrote the graphic novel the film is based on, is perfectly captured by aspiring screenwriter Johan Fasting and hits the mark every time. But more importantly, both were realistic in character development and what they say. The conversations between Rakel and Ingrid transferred to the picture are open and authentic. They talk about their periods, sex, excrement, everything, without an ounce of tenderness, and waltz clichés about femininity.

Obvious, but not acquired

Femininity on the mat, but big winner feminism. If there’s one thing that stands out ninja baby, women have the right to choose the life they want to live without being judged. Whether it’s the right to have as many one-night relationships as they want, to have an abortion or keep their baby, the right not to feel like a mother, to doubt… and many other things that should be taken for granted, but not yet are acquired.

Always resorting to humor to de-escalate the most serious of situations (making us laugh at the issue of denying pregnancy had to be done), the film offers a reflection on the inequalities between men and women that is as profound as it is necessary. Rakel’s sharp extremist discourse on contraception swings his feet into the bitter plate of inequality between men and women on the matter. We won’t go so far as to support his suggestion that all teens with male genitalia have vasectomies, but the debate for more equality continues.

And if Sætre and Fasting left the gloves in the dressing room for the sake of substance, director Yngvild Sve Flikke does the same for form. With his refined staging, the choice of bright lights and sober decors, he draws our attention back to what is most important: the psychological development of the characters. From Rakel, who believes a baby ninja secretly slipped into his belly to ruin his life, to “Dick Jesus”, who now wants to go back to bed after the damage is done, explore this gallery of characters with spiteful babble mischievously the twists and turns of ancestral panic. Equipped, squeegee at the forefront of the line, with what Bridget Jones has rightly dubbed “verbal diarrhea”, they set themselves no bounds to push a more intellectual reflection to the end than it seems. They are also all the more lovable.

Fiercely raw and devilishly merry, ninja baby does its best to free us from the tight and tiresome straitjacket of the maternity movies we’ve been dished up to now. To be enjoyed without tweezers or moderation.

ninja baby

★★★ 1/2

Drama by Yngvild Sve Flikke with Kristine Kujath Thorp, Arthur Benning and Nader Khademi. Norway, 2021, 103 min. Indoors.

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