I will be upfront, I don’t know how to talk about this movie without spoiling. IMDB doesn’t know how to talk about this movie without spoiling it either. There is an incident that occurs in the last third of the movie that changes the tone and the scope of the film which, to the best of my recollection, is not hinted at in the trailer. So, I’m going to get into “spoilers” rather quickly but I will give a brief rundown of the movie before we get there.
Nasty Baby is about Freddy and Mo, an interracial gay couple, who live in New York City and are trying to conceive a child with Freddy’s best friend Polly. Freddy is a performance artist who is invested in having a child he can call his own and starting a family with Mo. Unfortunately, Freddy’s sperm count is to low and Mo has to decide if he is comfortable and ready to conceive a child with Polly.
The first two thirds of the movie are spent with these characters as they navigate the conception of a child and their lives in NYC, specifically dealing with the neighbors and Freddy’s evolving theater piece where he enacts being a baby. (This is where we get the title of the film) I would recommend the first two-thirds of this movie to most people as it is a very sweet, even-handed depiction of life for this trio.
To give a brief example, there is a point early on in the film where Freddy, after hearing about his low sperm count, insists on trying again to use his sperm to get Polly pregnant. We see her dump the sample out and for a brief moment we start to wonder if the reason she has not gotten pregnant is not because of Freddy’s low sperm count but because she’s been dumping all the samples. In the next scene she tells Freddy and Mo what she has done and explains that she is tired of getting her hopes up and would rather try with Mo’s sperm instead of going ahead with Freddy’s knowing it is not going to happen. It is a very real, direct moment that gets to the emotional heart of the situation without setting of any last resentments that will come to bare later on.
So please, go and see the first two-thirds of Nasty Baby. The performances are great. Kristin Wiig gives a fantastic dramatic performance (better than that of Skeleton Twins; I have not seen Welcome to Me yet) and is the main reason I sought the file out. Alia Shawkat, always a delight, shows up in a small supporting role and is a co-producer on the film. Sebastian Silva and Tunde Adebimpe, as Freddy and Mo respectively, both give great performances and have fantastic chemistry.
The spoiler portion of things is coming up so if you do not want to read any more now is the time to quit.
They straight up murder someone in the last third of the movie. For real. Now, to back track a little.
It’s really hard to know if this is actually a spoiler or not. When I was looking up information about the movie on IMDB the summery for the movie reads “A close-knit trio navigates the idea of creating life, while at the same time being confronted with a brutal scenario that causes them to take a life.” It’s alright there, in the description. Its not in the trailer but it is on IMDB, so who knows.
My issue is not with this proposed concept for a movie. I would like to see a movie about a group of people trying to conceive/create a life but along their journey they are confronted with a situation that results in them taking the life of another human being and then having to deal with that. That is not this movie.
So to set the stage. The man that ends of being killed is a neighborhood local named Bishop, played by Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards). Bishop is a man suffering from a mental illness and is on the verge of becoming destitute. Early on in the movie he meets Polly and Freddy when he is selling some of his possessions. Their relationship ship starts off friendly but grows increasingly strained over the course of the film which creates a current of tension that has the potential for violence.
One night while walking home Freddy crosses paths with Bishop, I believe, after Bishop has been evicted. Bishop follows Freddy home repeatedly calling him a faggot and starts throwing rocks at him. During their confrontation Freddy strikes Bishop who falls to the ground and gashes his head open. Freddy helps Bishop up and takes him to the front steps of his apartment so Freddy can go inside to call for help. Bishop ends up getting into the apartment and tries to attack Freddy again. During the fight Bishop is stabbed in the neck after which Freddy drags the bleeding man into the bathtub while he figures out what to do.
At this point Mo comes home with Polly. They try to figure out a plan on how best to deal with the situation. Bishop is calling out for help so in order to keep him quiet and not alert the neighbors Freddy smothers him to death. Then with the help of another neighbor, Mo and Freddy, take the body out to the country, dig a hole and burn the body. Polly cleans up the apartment. Then the three of them go to bed, wake up the next morning and go out and get coffee. Roll credits.
Seriously, that’s how quickly this murder s resolved.
I know this is a lot of summery but I really want to illustrate how quickly this interesting, even handed story quickly escalates and shoehorns in this bizarre murder plot. I think if the movie was a half hour longer this might have worked has the characters had time to wrestle with and feel the weight of what had happened. The movie also goes through a lot of trouble justifying why these characters could not call an ambulance, report what happened, and had to make the choices they did. None of it feels true to the characters or particularly believable.
What is truly frustrating is the movie does a good job of developing these characters, so that even though they did something terrible, you’re still on their side at the end of the movie. I liked spending time with these characters and getting to know them which I why I say that the first two-thirds of this movie is worth watching. I just cannot, whole heatedly, recommend this movie as it goes off the rails in such a way that its hard to know who to will put up with its shenanigans.
You know what see it. Its got great pacing, well developed characters and engaging performances. Just know that at some point things will take a turn and if you want you can turn it off and just be done.