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Nasty Baby centers around a Brooklyn couple, Freddy and his boyfriend Mo, who are trying to have a baby with the help of their best friend, Polly. Freddy is an artist, and his latest work is all about babies – it’s clear he’s dying to be a father. Polly is a family practitioner who is more interested in having a baby than having a man. Mo is hesitant about the entire idea, especially when Polly isn’t having success with Freddyʼs sperm and the donor responsibility shifts to him. Set almost entirely in the multicultural vibrancy of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the trio navigates the idea of creating life, when they are confronted by unexpected harassment from particularly aggressive neighborhood man, nicknamed The Bishop. The Bishop is bothersome in small, yet persistent ways, with a hint of danger. As their clashes become increasingly aggressive, someone is bound to get hurt.

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Nasty Baby movie full length review - Brooklyn Grotesque

Grotesque (Noun) - A distortion of reality, often comic or satiric in nature.

Sebastian Silva has a knack for making films that mask simmering malice, danger, and outright evil in a playfully subversive manner. "The Maid" featured a long-time servant out to make mischief for her callous employers. "Magic Magic" detailed the slow crack-up of an innocent and naive California blonde as she's dragged deep into the bowels of South American ethnicity (read: Reality).

Silva himself stars in this latest excursion into unwanted reality, one his character, Freddy, seems just as terrified to face: that of fatherhood. Freddy lives in an airy Brooklyn apartment with his partner Mo (Tunde Adebimpe). He's a visual and performance artist who's got a child's attention span (and general life attitude): flighty, not overtly responsible or aware of other's feelings, and prone to fits of rage that mask an underlying self-hatred and nonacceptance. Throw into this emotionally thick stew Freddy's fixation on getting his best friend Polly (Kristin Wiig) pregnant with Mo's sperm (as Freddy's isn't up to the task - ouch), an obsession with an oddly self-conscious performance art piece that articulates his own fear and loathing, and a crazy neighbor who's becoming more and more aggressive in his assaults. There's enough TNT here to detonate the most stalwart brownstone.

Most of Freddy's fears and neuroses are down-played in Nasty Baby, just as Juno Temple's were in "Magic Magic" and Silva is good at this. Mo, Polly, and even Wendy, Freddy's assistant (the sparkly Alia Shawkat, who also produces here) can see the cracks and the film does a good job at slowly turning up the seismic rumble under the surface.

Reg E. Cathy (miles away from his displaced Barbecue chef on House of Cards) is an effectively unstable menace who constantly pushes Freddy's self-hatred buttons with homophobic slurs and taunts. Does Freddy really want a child? Or is it something he feels he must do to complete some kind of bohemian ideal or even his latest performance piece? Nobody around him seems sure, even his elderly gay neighbor (the superb Mark Margolis) who's seen his share of battle wounds from just being himself.

Nasty Baby eventually erupts in an unexpected and nasty way that I won't spoil. It's satisfying though not in a real audience-pleasing manner, but you can see the terror and dread in Silva's face up until the end. It's anything but light entertainment, but like all of Silva's films it will make you think and will hold up over repeat viewings. The iTunes commentary, with Silva, Adebimpe, and Wiig is a hoot, by the way.