Pity the Focus Features marketing team behind “Babies,” a near-wordless French production directed by Thomas Balmès that follows four babies from disparate parts of the world from birth to the dawn of self-awareness. Surprisingly, the doc isn't as unbearable as that might sound: The HD images Balmès captures, breathtaking landscapes in Namibia and Mongolia shot from a tripod, visually cast the infants in the greater context of their surroundings. The director's attention to lighting and composition is painterly, the babies perfectly framed. But the result is a cinematic coffee-table book set to music and ambient sound, an aesthetic exercise that gets at no deeper truth than "babies are basically alike no matter the culture."
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