Ninjababy is a Norwegian film directed by Yngvild Sve Flikke, and based on the graphic novel, Fallteknik. The film is absurd, hilarious, and lovable as it takes the audience on an unorthodox journey of characters trying to solve their problems in a wildly unconventional way, in a wildly unconventional order.
After clearly showing signs of pregnancy, young Rakel (Kristine Kujath Thorp) discovers that she actually is pregnant, in a beautiful display of well-written dramatic irony. To make matters worse, it’s with the awkward, if not personable, martial arts teacher Mos; whose class she attended with her best friend. Rakel tells Mos that she’s pregnant with his child, and she plans to get an abortion. After a missed bus, Mos winds up taking Rakel to the appointment. During the ultrasound, they learn some troubling news. Rakel is not eight weeks pregnant, like she originally thought, she’s SIX MONTHS pregnant, and now must track down the actual father of the child.
Rakel approaches the new suspected baby daddy, who for the sake of steering clear of excess crassness we’ll call him DJ. With DJ’s introduction, an unsteady love triangle is introduced. But, within the love triangle is Rakel and Mos. The pair grow closer as DJ keeps appearing and trying to worm himself in at the most inopportune times. He first rejects the notion of Rakel’s baby, but then decides, passionately, that he wants to father the child.
Rakel does a fantastic job supporting the film as the main character. She’s extraordinarily outlandish, taking ridiculous action to find the solution to her current predicament. In the beginning, it’s procuring an abortion. But after that option is ruled out, she’s determined to find a family for her baby in her own quirky way. Within her outspoken personality and sometimes odd choices, it’s clear that Rakel really does want what’s best for the baby, even if she does want nothing to do with it. She dubs it a “sneaky little ninjababy” for living inside her for six months without her noticing.
Ninjababy himself is a hilarious commentator throughout the film. He takes the image of a crudely drawn baby boy with a ninja mask, one of Rakel’s drawings come to life. Ninjababy serves as a vessel for Rakel’s thoughts, and presents the audience with witty retorts and complaints as he acts as a presentation of Rakel’s inner monologue.
Despite loving the story, and loving the ending, it felt incomplete. On the romance front, a major thread is left untied. While the film’s big story kicks off with Rakel’s pregnancy, and the baby is the driving force, the romantic side of the plot is a strong component in the audience’s connection to Rakel. The storyline with the baby is neatly wrapped, in an incredibly heartwarming manner complete with an epilogue. The story of Rakel’s romantic ventures doesn’t get so much as a nod after it disappears from the hospital. I felt unsatisfied not knowing what had happened, and that we watched a character walk away, and then we never say where he went.
There were times in the movie where everything seemed so outlandish, that it felt impossible for any serious moment to come later. But the tone was so masterfully balanced between ridiculousness and seriousness, with quick injections of comedy or drama when a scene was driven by the other. Throughout the movie were moments of cheering, crying, and hysterical laughter that may have been heard by neighboring apartments. Ninjababy isn’t afraid to pull out all the stops and take advantage of any possible emotion that the audience can feel.
Overall, Ninjababy is a crass and surprisingly emotional delight. Fun and brutally real characters tell a story that doesn’t rely on traditional cliches of the new mother story. Reminiscent of an adult, Norwegian Juno, Rakel keeps a tight connection with the audience through her journey to figure out what to do with this baby, and more importantly, what to do with herself.
This article was written by a guest contributor
Amanda started writing with video game reviews – every 12 year old boy’s dream! She has worked in TV development and children’s theater. She also writes and produces a podcast called Logdate. She finds a way to write about almost anything, and loves stories that inspire happiness and change.
See more SXSW reviews:
Writer and director Addison Heimann makes his directorial debut with a powerful film examining mental health and childhood trauma through the lens of horror. StarringContinue Reading