Review: When life takes a turn, it can be a ‘Nasty Baby’


“Nasty Baby,” writer-director Sebastián Silva’s follow-up to his spiky, funny “Crystal Fairy,” is a similarly pointed, loosely constructed (and ultimately surprising) look at navel-gazing hipsters. This time they’re in their own environment, in this case Brooklyn, where Freddy (Silva), a struggling video installation artist, and his sweet-faced boyfriend, Mo (Tunde Adebimpe), are trying to have a baby with the help of Polly (Kristen Wiig), their closest friend.

An endeavor of tenuous motivation — Freddy wants to also turn the experience into an art project — it’s nevertheless presented as emotionally sincere if comically haphazard. But Silva is after something slightly darker when his elite creatives leave their cozy brownstones and have awkward run-ins with a neighborhood figure called “The Bishop” (Reg E. Cathey), a homophobic, mentally ill squatter who, despite Cathey’s strong performance, is basically a stand-in for the harsh reality outside the trio’s bubble.

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The unscripted, naturalistically shot messiness of this urban snapshot is not always terribly interesting, and maybe that’s the point considering Silva’s third-act hard left into unexpected moral peril. In much the way “Crystal Fairy” blossomed when we were snapped out of our chuckling repulsion, “Nasty Baby” rights itself intriguingly when Silva pushes his characters into unknown territory and lifestyle is imposed upon by life.


“Nasty Baby.”

MPAA rating: R for sexual content, some disturbing violence, language, drug use and graphic nude images.

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.

Playing: Sundance Sunset, West Hollywood.


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