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Toronto Review: Bess Wohl Film ‘Baby Ruby’ Starring Noemie Merlant And Kit Harrington

Did you ever see those videos of women giving birth in high school anatomy class? It’s like watching a David Cronenberg film because childbirth is body horror. The impending task of motherhood is draining, and for some, Postpartum depression is a large part of the horrifying ordeal of being a mom. This is what director/writer Bess Wohl aims to portray in her new feature film Baby Ruby which stars Noemie Merlant and Kit Harrington.

Jo (Merlant) is juggling a lot right now. She’s balancing life as a vlogger and influencer with her first child. Her husband Spencer (Harrington) isn’t into any of that and works as a butcher. They live in a semi-rural area in a lovely home and have what seems like the perfect life. Jo has no clue about being a mother and what to expect. She asks questions like, “how big are these things anyway.” Sure, she’s asking in jest, but her eyes say she really wants an answer.

After baby Ruby is born, she skips work tasks, the house is messy, and Jo loses track of time. Not even the audience realizes a month has passed until a cast member makes it known. Ruby cries constantly, and the new mother is delusional because she denies every attempt at help offered to her. The poor woman is at wit’s end, looking more disheveled with each passing day, walking with her baby along the highway. She tries to communicate her struggles to her husband, who thinks its new mom jitters. There’s no support for her. A joyous milestone in her life has turned into a David Lynch movie.

This movie is disturbing and exhausting. The constant shrill baby wails are unnerving to the point where I wanted to walk out of the theater. Baby Ruby is the type of movie that chills you to the bone, and witnessing a film that makes an infant the antagonist is a WILD experience. The most disturbing aspect is people see her mental decline but don’t say anything or step in to stop this. My God, someone help this woman!

PPD has to be one of the loneliest experiences in existence. There is a cerebral element that reality isn’t within your control, which is so scary to see and hear. This is a story that only someone whose had the illness can create. IT. IS. BRUTAL. The editing by Jin Lee contributes to the unease of watching Jo sink further into a fractured mental state.

Noemie Merlant has been crushing it. Her role as Marianne in Celine Sciamma’s 2019 film Portrait of A Lady On Fire reenergized her career, which led her to star alongside Hollywood’s best like Cate Blanchett, Jacques Audiard, and Todd Field. Merlant also premiered her directorial debut film, Mi Lubita Mon Amor, at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021. The actress is on quite a winning streak, and Baby Ruby allows her to play against type to show her varied range.

Giving birth to a little human is frightening as heck. Mothers should be held to the highest order because of what they deal with before, during, and after giving birth. Baby Ruby is tantamount to a VR simulation because Wohl has accomplished the goal of making the audience as uncomfortable as possible as they sit behind Jo’s eyes. It’s been quite a while since something has moved me in this way. This is what cinema is all about.

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