‘Baby Ruby’ Review: Enfant Terrible

This psychological horror movie stars Noémie Merlant as a new mother experiencing delusions and paranoia.

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By Natalia Winkelman

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As moody and messy as its eponym, “Baby Ruby” aspires to demonstrate how postpartum psychosis can feel like a horror movie. It just fails to make the condition feel like a particularly convincing or cohesive horror movie.

The film begins with Jo (Noémie Merlant), a successful blogger, throwing her own baby shower at the chic upstate cabin she shares with her husband, Spencer (Kit Harington). Jo makes it plain that she intends to be a modern mommy who has it all: the affectionate marriage, the elegant home, the prosperous career and the angelic baby.

In the weeks after she delivers Ruby, however, Jo experiences an onset of delusions and paranoia. Ruby is a colicky baby, and as Jo strives to summon up soothing techniques, she seesaws between the compulsive urge to safeguard the infant and the uncomfortable sensation of begrudging her existence.

It was once considered taboo to even suggest that new motherhood was not all sunshine onesies and rainbow mobiles, and “Baby Ruby” arrives on a welcome wave of contemporary movies exploring how the joys of child rearing can commingle with misery.

Yet the film, directed by Bess Wohl, often defaults to telling us about these emotional states rather than showing them. We learn that Jo is a control freak only through quarrels with Spencer’s overbearing mother (Jayne Atkinson) and chit chats with her new pal (Meredith Hagner, a riot offering respite from the gloom). Retro visual flair, such as repeat cuts and mirror effects, add some aesthetic interest to Jo’s spiraling. But “Baby Ruby” hardly whimpers, let alone screams.

Baby Ruby
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 29 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Amazon, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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