A smart and sassy look at the emotional impact, both good and bad, of an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy is the focus of “Ninjababy,” from writer / director Yngvild Sve Flikke. The film is based on illustrator Inga Sætre’s acclaimed graphic novel “The Art of Falling,” about a young woman who’d rather be out drinking than staring down a future as a mother. It’s a bit like the Norwegian version of “Knocked Up,” only the story stays true to its lead character.
Rakel (Kristine Kujath Thorp) is in denial when she discovers she may be pregnant. After a positive test, she heads straight to the abortion clinic. Rakel’s life is thrown into further disarray when it turns out that she is actually 6 months pregnant and never even knew. It’s far too late for an abortion, so she must tell the father (which could be one of two different men) and find a suitable person to adopt the kid once it is born.
Rakel is an aspiring comic book artist, so she creates an animated stick figure representation of her growing fetus, dubs him Ninjababy, and the two carry on conversations that tackle both of their hopes, dreams, and fears related to an uncertain future.
It’s a very strange movie indeed, with a specific style of international humor. The characters, both female and male, are well-written with a refreshing candor. There’s plenty of frank sexual talk and matter-of-fact dialogue, and the film has a unique storytelling voice (aided by Flikke and co-writers Sætre and Johan Fasting). All of this is pulled off with terrific performances from a talented, appealing cast (including Nader Khademi, Arthur Berning, and Tora Christine Dietrichson), and a well-suited contemporary directorial style from Flikke.
The film’s premise presents an interesting situation, especially when Rakel is so headstrong and sure of herself. She is ambivalent to the idea of being a mother and although society pushes back with its expected gender roles, she stands tall. That’s what I loved the most about “Ninjababy”: the strength of the lead character is never put into question.