Babycall REVIEW

Her passion for walkie-talkies was really getting out of hand now.

 


Release Date: 30 March 2012
15 | 96 minutes
Distributor: Soda Pictures
Director: Pål Sletaune
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Kristoffer Joner, Henrik Rafaelsen, Vetle Qvenild Werring, Torkil Johannes Swensen Høeg

“Don’t you answer that phone, girlfriend, he’s making a babycall!” is a line you won’t find in this chilly Norewegian suspenser, likely to be hamstrung by its misleading moniker. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Rapace stars as stressed-out mother Anna, placed in witness protection to escape the violent ex-partner who abused both her and her young son.

Set in the grim, grey flats and flyovers of the outskirts of Oslo, Babycall begins as a painful depiction of the lasting legacy of domestic violence, before taking a turn for the tense as the baby monitor (‘babycall’) Anna buys to keep an ear on her son starts to pick up cries and screams from another apartment.

Rapace, who picked up the best actress award at Rome last year for the role, is heartbreaking – thin-lipped and distrustful as meetings with school staff and social workers become increasingly fractious, soothed only by a potentially redemptive relationship with the store worker who sold her the baby monitor. Claustrophobic and disorientating, Babycall is for the most part a deft character study of paranoid, protective single parenthood. It’s a nerve-shredding psychological (and supernatural) journey and while the ultimate destination may frustrate, leaving more questions than answers, Babycall separates itself visually and emotionally (if not necessarily logically) from similarly structured Hollywood predecessors which (it would be too spoilerish to name-check).

Babycall can’t claim to reinvent a subgenre the way Let The Right One In did, though it does provide an effectively unsettling counterpart to glossier chillers of its ilk which deserves more attention than that wholly inappropriate title suggests.

Rosie Fletcher

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