Please Baby Please
Please Baby Please tells the story of Suze (Andrea Riseborough) and Arthur (Harry Melling), a couple living in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1950s whose lives are changed when they run into the Young Gents, a violent gang of ruffians. Their lives are put in jeopardy by the gang, but something about their untamed aggression captivates and thrills the couple in different ways, challenging their preconceptions of gender and sexuality.
Please Baby Please examines, dissects and deconstructs these two concepts throughout its runtime. Through the character arcs of Suze, Arthur and the Young Gents, the feature exposes how the gender binary restricts sincere and genuine emotional expression, but also highlights the difficulties of getting untangled from its grip and the ways that people uphold and maintain this flawed system, despite the immense personal cost of doing so.
While the film’s discussions of these central talking points are, for the most part, interesting and engaging, there are times when its storytelling can be a little too on the nose in ways that could pull viewers from the experience. At other times, it feels like the piece’s analysis stagnates, falling back on its strong visuals in lieu of compelling character development. However, these moments of narrative jank don’t affect things too much, and the movie hits more than it misses.
Please Baby Please also plays with binaries in its cinematography and aesthetics, blending the artifice and campiness of musicals with the ugly, angry violence of the real world. This self-subverting style is striking and dynamic, creating the perfect stage for the flick’s extensive explorations of identity and sensuality, and facilitating some wonderful complex performances from its talented cast: Riseborough is a particular delight as the frustrated and existentially unsettled Suze, bringing a real unhinged energy to the role.
Overall, Please Baby Please is a stylish and entertaining ride, delivering incisive interrogations of the systems of gender and sex that govern our lives, along with heaps of pizzazz and glamour. Its uncompromising aesthetics and unsubtle storytelling might be something of an acquired taste, but for audiences willing to engage with it on its own terms, there’s a lot to enjoy here.
Please Baby Please is released on Mubi on 31st March 2023.
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