September 28, 2018
“I think it’s possible to ask too much about what effect a film might have.”
Award-winning Chinese writer/director Liu Jie—known for his vérité explorations of social justice issues—premiered his latest cinematic baby, Baby, at TIFF 2018. The film has already amassed glowing reviews and is currently playing in San Sebastian, Spain, for its second festival at the end of September.
Baby is Chinese Neorealism with an edge. The native title of the film, Bao Bei Er, means “precious”—but the children in the film are anything but. Liu turns his lens on the Chinese working class with searing emotional intensity.
We follow Meng, a 19-year-old foster child who suffers from a congenital illness. She wants to support her ailing foster mother but faces discrimination from employers due to her disability. Her friends are even worse off: deaf-mutes who rely on disability pensions. When Meng finally finds work as a hospital janitor, she discovers a disabled infant abandoned by her parents. A reminder of her own infancy, the baby’s fate becomes an ethical bone of contention…and Meng doesn’t know how to let go.