Films with a baby in the title can be a bit hit or miss. You have the legendary horror film by Roman Polansky, Rosemary’s Baby, the comedy Three Men and a Baby, or the animated film Boss Baby and its sequel. These films can go in all kinds of directions. Baby Ruby goes in a direction similar to Rosemary’s Baby to some extent. Director Bess Wohl seemed to be very invested in this subject matter. It will hit home for a lot of women watching who may have dealt with what this movie depicts on screen.
Baby Ruby is about a mother Jo (Noemie Merlant, Portrait of a Lady on Fire) who is a blogger and influencer. She is married to a butcher Spencer (Kit Harrington, The Eternals) Together they are expecting a little girl they have already named Ruby. They seem like a happy couple, that is until their little ball of joy is finally born. Something is not right with little Ruby but nobody, including maternal doctors, can figure out what’s going on. It may have more to do with the mother instead.
The writer/director Bess Wohl creates an atmosphere of tension and confusion for the characters in the movie and the audience watching it. The characters are set against each other because of this confusion. As a viewer watching I was beside myself with disbelief because I didn’t know where this story was going. As a woman, Wohl knew where she was going with this story. As a man, I didn’t and that was why I was a little confused as we’re the characters in the film.
Women know the things they go through after having a child. Some of them handle it well and others have difficulties. This is called postpartum depression. This ailment causes a lot of mental issues for new mothers. They tend to worry a lot about their child and in this movie, she worries too much. To the extent that she comes across as crazy or delusional with all the things, she sees in her dreams or envisions. She is distraught. This film will bring back many memories for some mothers out there watching it in theaters.
Besides the obvious mental and physical stuff that Merlant goes through in this movie, she also has to be believable as a mother with this ailment. Merlant wowed audiences in other films she’s been in but this is a different type of performance. She becomes this woman who is going through this traumatic experience. I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes no matter how much money I was paid. Along with her, there is also her husband. He is also very confused and emotional by what she’s going through. Harrington uses an American accent very well and he gives a good performance opposite Merlant. She is just incredible though.
Baby Ruby uses some popular tropes to scare or frighten those watching. That’s where the film succeeds besides Merlant. It keeps everyone watching disorientated which is why the confusion is so high in the overall story. Using these types of scare tactics is usually pretty good in a horror film but they are also used very effectively in this context. I didn’t know I was watching a horror movie. I thought I was watching a film about a baby. But in a sense, postpartum depression can be a horrific experience for those going through it.
Baby Ruby won’t be for everybody but mothers who have gone through this ailment depicted in the film will surely have an adverse reaction to what they see, in the film. Wohl creates a story that is raw in its portrayal of postpartum depression and its symptoms. Noemie Merlant gives a very emotionally good performance as this mother going through a traumatic circumstance. I am not a woman but this couldn’t be easy for anyone to go through including the husband or father of the child who has to deal with such things.
Dan Skip Allen