BABY GIRL: Maternal Instinct
The release of Baby Girl (2016) marks a cinematic milestone for Director Joshua Defour. Woman as unwed and single mother has been vilified throughout cinematic history as early as D.W. Griffith’s Anna (Lillian Gish) in Way Down East (1920). Considered a social fringe figure or resident unfettered by tropes of a traditional family model which rebukes patriarchal society. Her association with poverty, the welfare system, and questionable morality often evoke a sense of scorn. Defour’s film depicts her struggle as empathetic focal point which is given breath to the sailcloth as desperation sets tack for a hard choice.
Backdrop canvas for the film is a beautifully desolate small town of Farmersville, Texas. This quiet rural setting of empty streets speaks of emptiness and lack of opportunity for mother Addison (Sarah Spurger) and daughter Annie (Anelise Juarez). The muted pallet of exterior scenes is also supportive of the premise of a world of mundane inescapability that is the bane of small town life. Juxtaposed are the colorist hi-lights of interior scenes, notably within a resale shop, which attract like brightly colored candies in a jar. Soundscape is masterfully handled through a lilting scored music bed covering a gamut of subtle nuances to tension building and fall off.
The films story arc follows character familiarization, empathy, tension, situational circumstance and resolution. Perhaps most captivating is the directors handling of the symbiotic relationship between mother and child. Theirs is a conjoined dialect both visually and emotionally. Interwoven tracking shots of mother and child from behind, as they wander through the magical wonders of the shop, serve to fuse this bond. Further verbal inferences of baby girl to both child and mother solidify the reflective properties.
The simple pleasure of a child’s wish denied and unfulfilled promise of a family unified create parallel tensions for both baby girls. Innocent tantrum by child and public disruption by mother also mirror unmet needs within both characters. This tension is broken through Addison crossing the boundary between right and wrong for the sake of filling this void. Maternal instinct serves not only to satisfy Anna’s desire but also justifies Addison’s desolation despite the consequences.
Defour has developed a style that is both intrinsic and seamless and shows a promising career future in the cinematic arts.