Ninjababy ~ A Non-Spoiler Review

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Photo montage of scenes from the film Ninjababy. The central image is the theatrical poster for the film.

🇳🇴 NINJABABY 🇳🇴

Ninjababy (2021) is a Norwegian comedy/drama feature film at present free on All4, Prime Video U.K. rent/buy £4.49/£9.99, Curzon Home Cinema £3.99; SBS On Demand Aus. 1 hr 43 min. Guidance re: content.

Premise:

“Astronaut, forest-keeper, cartoonist. Young Rakel has a whole lot of other plans than becoming a mother. She would rather party, get drunk or stoned instead of sitting hours on the toilet. But she can’t ignore it. Is it her or the baby?” IMDb

Cast:

Kristine Kujath Thorp as Rakel
Arthur Berning as “Dick Jesus”
Nader Khademi as Mos
Tora Christine Dietrichson as Ingrid
Silya Nymoen as Mir
Herman Tømmeras as Ninjababy’s voice
Evelyn Rasmussen Osazuwa as Doctor
Trine Wiggen as Advisor
Morten Svartveit as Adoptive Father
Janne Heltberg as Adoptive Mother

Theatrical poster for the film Ninjababy

Crew:

Director: Yngvild Sve Flikke
Writers: Johan Fasting, Yngvild Sve Flikke, Inga Sætre
Composer: Kåre Vestrheim
Cinematographer: Marianne Bakke
Editor: Karen Gravås
Sound Designer: Hugo Ekornes
Animation: Inga Sætre

Notes:

Ninjababy is based on an acclaimed graphic novel by Inga Sætre.

A scene from Ninjababy showing the animation and Kristine Kujath Thorp as Rakel.

Review:

Over the course of last year, I had followed the progress of Yngvild Sve Flikke’s Ninjababy through various film festivals. When it arrived on Film4 the other day it seemed the perfect opportunity to watch. What did I make of this Norwegian comedy-drama?

Kristine Kujath Thorp as Rakel in a scene from Ninjababy. She wears a light blue sweater, is sitting down, winking her left eye and pointing with the index finger of her left hand.

Ninjababy was just the right sort of film for me to be watching at the moment but probably not for everyone. It is very funny, raunchy, sweary and quite outrageous in places.

A scene from Ninjababy showing the combination of live action and animated figures.

The mixture of live-action with “hand-drawn” animation (think cartoon-like illustrations in a book) works incredibly well in this film. I loved the parts where, for example, rain would start to pour on Rakel or naked little “Ninjababy” would climb around. These illustrations tie in directly with Rakel’s talent as a graphic artist but also draw attention to her deadbeat failure to pursue anything to fruition.

Nader Khademi as Mos (Left) and Kristine Kujath Thorp as Rakel (right) sitting with their backs to a shutter covered in graffiti in a scene from Ninjababy.

Rakel is brilliantly played by Kristine Kujath Thorp with incredible range from fury at being pregnant, but so far along that abortion is no longer an option, to being in turn very funny and terribly sad. The whole supporting cast is great in this, with Nader Khademi as Mos being outstanding in the gentle, understated way in which he plays him. These performances made me sit and say “Wow!”

Ninjababy has a very well-written story with characters that feel “real”. As a journey of a wastrel (for that is Rakel at the start) upon a voyage of self-discovery it is very effective and affecting. A young woman who is faced with a major dilemma but rather than folding is brave enough to make the right decision.

What I also particularly enjoyed are the stories within stories that are told, such as the one Mos relates about the figure he buys and paints that represents Rakel. At the end of the film, we see this figure hanging from her car mirror… which leaves us with questions on what has happened to their relationship since.

For me a good film (or TV series) has me rooting for at least one character, and boy, this film absolutely succeeded in this. I was desperate to see what happened to certain characters and relationships.

Arthur Berning as “Dick Jesus” in a scene from Ninjababy. The animated Ninjababy is looking over his left shoulder pointing at him with a worried expression on his face.

Not all the jokes work in Ninjababy but I laughed out loud (and very loudly at that) at certain parts. The parts which had me saying “Oh! No!” and visibly cringing were so funny. Other parts are just so sweet, joyful and disarming.

The use of music in this film is extremely effective. It makes you sit up and take notice of the lyrics of the songs and tone. I also loved the directorial decisions and the camerawork. Everything put together makes this film very impactful.

At this point, I guess I should mention that Ninjababy will certainly not be for everyone as it is very crude and blunt in places.

I absolutely loved watching Ninjababy. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it shocked me and had some moments that made me sigh. I can unhesitatingly recommend it. I loved it!

Awards:

10 Wins and 14 Nominations

Wins:
Amanda Awards, Norway (2021) Best Actress ~ Kristine Kujath Thorp; Best Supporting Actor ~ Nader Khademi; Best Direction ~ Yngvild Sve Flikke; Best Screenplay ~ Johan Fasting, Yngvild Sve Flikke, Inga Sætre
Berlin International Film Festival (2021) Crystal Bear – Special Mention, Generation 14plus – Best Feature Film ~ Yngvild Sve Flikke
European Film Awards (2021) European Comedy ~ Yngvild Sve Flikke
Giffoni Film Festival (2021) Best Film ~ Yngvild Sve Flikke
CGS Award Best Film ~ Yngvild Sve Flikke
La Roche-sur-Yon International Film Festival (2021) Trajectoires Award ~ Yngvild Sve Flikke
SXSW Film Festival (2021) Audience Award, Global ~ Yngvild Sve Flikke

Trailer:

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