Looking for a film about a woman who learns she’s pregnant and then embarks upon an emotional journey heavy on soul searching? There are plenty to choose from. There’s Juno, there’s Knocked Up, and there’s even Bridget Jones’s Baby. Surely nobody would bother to add another entry to the mix unless it had something new to say? Unfortunately, Ninjababy didn’t get the memo.
Rakel (Kristine Kujath Thorp) is a young woman enjoying a life filled with parties, alcohol, hallucinogens, and the occasional bout of intercourse. After a few curious symptoms, she learns that not only is she pregnant, she’s in fact seven months pregnant. This throws a spanner in the works of her aspirations to perhaps be an astronaut or beer taster (these seemingly chosen at random by the filmmakers), or a comic book artist (which is at least demonstrated as an ambition).
Rakel’s drawings are evoked using numerous animated sequences, with even a cartoon depiction of her unborn baby, whom she talks to. These are presumably intended to show just how animated Rakel’s inner world is, but the result is indistinctive, as though director Yngvild Sve Flikke couldn’t work out a more efficient way to give Rakel any depth as a character.
Whether she’s trying to arrange an abortion (which is depicted in a wonderfully unsentimental way) or bristling with righteous indignation about the unfairness of it all, there’s simply too little to Rakel as a protagonist. Her own backstory is non-existent, particularly her own family (aside from some input from her half sister), and, while a film doesn’t necessarily need to join the dots, it can be helpful to acknowledge that some dots actually exist. It could be that Ninjababy wants to present itself as a story about any woman, or every woman. If so, it’s an admirable approach, but the end result can easily be undefined, as is the case here.
When Ninjababy inevitably attempts to flex its emotional muscles in the final act, it feels unearned. It’s inauthentic to depict Rakel’s story in a deliberately breezy way, and then expect a change in tone to deliver the emotional goods. Kristine Kujath Thorp acquits herself well, with a personable, enlivened performance that makes a valiant effort to paste over the story’s cracks. Nonetheless, there might be a bun in the oven, but it’s disappointingly undercooked.
Ninjababy does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Ninjababy here: