Based on a true story (very loosely), Silva's latest film Nasty Baby
is a completely misdirected comedy drama about a gay hipster couple, artist Freddy (Silva himself) and Mo (Tunde Adebimpe) who reside in Brooklyn and are trying to bring a baby into their life via Freddy's best friend Polly (Kristen Wiig).
Complications arise from the likely places; Polly's inability to conceive, Freddy's anger management issues, Mo's disdain and a kooky art project Freddy is trying to initialize that sours the whole procedure. As the days carry on, the majority of the time is spent in their lavish Brooklyn apartment, surrounded by white walls, modern technology, greenery and safety. Their upper middle class life is derailed from the literal comings and goings in the streets below them, something they cannot control. A crazed vagrant Bishop (Reg E. Cathey) roams the street, trying to help people park their cars and loudly using a leaf blower in the early hours of the morning. This happens constantly and Freddy's chagrin and declining patience wane with each day. Meanwhile Mo and Polly are at odds with each other as Mo refuses to let Polly use his sperm. What follows is a relatively affecting and sombre drama as life and love come to the fore and everything seems like a petty drama that can be overcome.
Sebastian Silva however is an absurd talent and master of genre. Even throughout the relatively straightforward proceedings of child rearing drama in the contemporary age there is a consistent feeling of unease, tension and even horror. It permeates through most scenes and lingers in the back of the mind. His previous works including Magic Magic and Crystal Fairy initially seem so far removed from this issue of urban crisis, but it has to be said that Nasty Baby is pure Silva and the result is one of the most surprising films of the year as morality, ethics and responsibility are shockingly dissected and reassembled.
At the same time Silva invites us to laugh with him at this extreme chaos. In a way that is neither parody, nor satire Silva has crafted a special kind of humour prevalent only to his unique vision. He masters tension through off-beat comedy, and this is also true of Nasty Baby. Wiig and co are perfect as bearable narcissistic hipsters, caught up in the void of their own life. Silva as Freddy is hilarious but also sincere, even with his clearly awful baby art project that provides some truly cringe-inducing moments.
Silva's focus on human nature is his greatest trait, and the irony inherent in most human beings and their tendency or willingness to change is something he is deeply passionate about. That darkness dwells within us all, and the capacity to do an unspeakable thing is just a thought away. These elements are not exploited, but instead presented in each of his films in such a naturalistic way that is truly unlike any other director working today, and Nasty Baby is yet another example of his confident brilliance.
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