“Ninjababy”, a Norwegian comedy-drama that overturns conventional wisdom about motherhood

Rakel, 23, a nonchalant and disorderly young woman, has a string of one-night stands, debauched evenings and lazy days. As a big dreamer, she has lots of projects in mind: to become an astronaut, a beer tester, or a designer. And if a project has never been on his list, it is that of being a mother. But while her roommate remarks that “[ses] boobs have grown”, Rakel takes a positive pregnancy test. Pregnant for more than six months, she can no longer abort and has no choice but to find the parent before considering adoption.

Ninjababy is an adaptation of the graphic novel fallteknikk by illustrator Inga H Saetre telling the story of 16-year-old Rakel, accidentally pregnant and having to manage with the sole support of her best friend. “I started from there, and in agreement with Inga, I reviewed the age, the ambitions, and the social situation of the characters”, explains the Norwegian director, Yngvild Sve Flikke, in the press release of the film. In particular, the filmmaker sought to address the fear of motherhood among young women today: “We are in a time when getting pregnant before 30 is unusual.” With this in mind, Ninjababy follows the emotional journeys of an anti-heroine confronting an unwanted pregnancy.

Ninjababy shatters all the stereotypes of a triumphant motherhood by tackling, without any delicacy or sensuality, this subject sometimes fantasized, sometimes smoothed over in society. “We wanted the whole movie to be a little grimy, including Rakel!”, explains the director. The camera follows Rakel’s misfortunes, going from the toilet to his messy bedroom, and a few love scenes. The film then opens the door to a raw discourse on pregnancy, abortion, adoption, vasectomy, childbirth or the female mental load… Subjects approached through a
“female gaze” largely assumed and uninhibited. Ninjababy thus paints the portrait of a modern young woman who tries to free herself from social injunctions and the dictates of maternal instinct.

Ninjababy is also a worked graphic design, mixing real images and animation drawings made by Inga H Saetre herself, and which serves the most touching passages of the film. Because faced with the upheaval of this pregnancy, Rakel creates a pencil figure, embodying her fetus, which she names “Ninjababy” and which comes to life in his imagination. This drawn character, with a voice that is anything but childish and a provocative demeanor, will push Rakel to the limit as much as she will end up getting attached to it. “The small animated character recalls the different states through which Rakel passes: anger, denial, rejection, doubts”, explains Yngvild Sve Flikke. Kristine Kujath Thorp is brilliant in the role of Rakel, moving brilliantly from denial of her pregnancy to the guilt of having a child without love, and seizes us with intense emotions without us seeing it coming. Resolutely feminist and committed, Ninjababy finds a very fair balance between humor and seriousness, between corrosive comedy and dramatic caress.

Ninjababy poster (DR)

source site-33