Baby Done (2021) Review
Rose Matafeo may be most familiar to UK audiences as one of the undoubted highlights of series 9 of TASKMASTER but those hijinks barely did justice to her irresistible amiability which is deployed to full effect in Curtis Vowell and Sophie Henderson’s charming semi-autobiographical comedy drama BABY DONE.
Happily unmarried couple Zoe (Rose Matafeo) and Tim (Matthew Lewis) are enoying their lives together and their arboriculture business – Zoe excels at and delights in climbing trees – while one by one their friends are pairing off and starting families, much to their amusement. Only the joke suddenly stops being funny when Zoe discovers she’s pregnant. Seeing her life coming to, for her, a premature end she determinedly embarks on a hastily cobbled together bucket list of edgy activities to prove to herself, Tim and best friend Molly (a superb Emily Barclay) that she is still the carefree thrill seeker she wants to be.
It’s a wonderfully observed character study of an identity crisis brought on by the putting aside of youthful exploits and taking up the responsibilities of adulthood but where BABY DONE differs from almost all other comedies aimed at this inflexion point is in zeroing in on Zoe’s dread of impending motherhood and her rebellion against the inevitable.
There’s an authentic realism to the dynamic between the flighty and obstinate Zoe and the sensitive and pragmatic Tim, with Matafeo and Lewis sharing a warm chemistry as they navigate the ups and downs of Zoe’s feelings as the due date approaches. As Zoe’s rebellion against the increasing concerns of not only Tim but her own family grows, the film starts to feel a little bit like it’s going to get away from itself but, in cheerfully embracing a frank and honest attitude to the triumphs and follies of Zoe’s bumpy journey towards motherhood it not only steadies the ship but gives cinematic voice to an experience not often explored with this lightness of touch or deftness of insight.
There are hints, here and there, of the whimsical wit and wisdom of executive producer Taika Waititi and the New Zealand setting lends everything a wry and pugnacious air, especially in the no-nonsense attitude of the New Zealand health service to Zoe’s flightiness but ultimately it’s the reminiscences of real-life couple director Curtis Vowell and writer Sophie Henderson that gives BABY DONE its slightly-too-random-to-be-made-up verisimilitude, an authenticity brought to adorable life by Matafeo, Barclay and Lewis – with just a soupcon of Rachel House thrown in for good measure too.