This hilarious and sneakily brilliant comedy from Norway begins like half a dozen unwanted-pregnancy movies you might already have seen. Rakel (Kristine Kujath Thorp) is a 23-year-old graphic design dropout who has not remotely got her life together yet. When she discovers she’s pregnant, she books a termination: “This is Norway. I can get an abortion.” The baby’s father goes with her, endearingly dorky aikido teacher Mos (Nader Khademi), with whom she had a one-night stand. At the clinic Rakel is appalled to discover she’s actually seven months gone – she’s had no symptoms, no bump, no nausea. She’s beyond the limit. Mos is out of the picture as daddy.
Director Yngvild Sve Flikke, who co-wrote the script based on an acclaimed graphic novel by Inga Sætre, craftily leads us down the garden path of happily-ever-after endings. Oooh, what if Rakel and Mos could make a go of it anyway? Maybe she could raise the baby with soulmate best friend flatmate Ingrid (Tora Christine Dietrichson)? But at its heart Flikke’s film has unapologetic, uncompromising things to say about women choosing – or choosing not to – have children. She’s less interested in nurturing Rakel’s maternal side than her creative life. Rakel is furious at her unabortable baby. “Thinks it can chill here for nine months and sneak out,” she fumes. She doodles it – a scrawny ugly foetus with a black mask – and calls it Ninjababy. He comes to life on the screen, funny and needy.
Rakel has a couple of months to decide how to offload her baby. She’s not keen on adoptive parents (“How will I know they’re not Nazi paedophiles?”). Her music producer older half-sister Mie (Silya Nymoen) is desperate to have kids and struggling to conceive. Ninjababy the foetus says he wants Angelina Jolie to be his mom. On paper, some of this sounds irritatingly quirky, but it’s a film that really offers an honest look at a woman’s life, from clumsy sex to Rakel’s joggers that 57 washes ago might have held some shape. There’s real insight and clarity in Thorp’s performance too – likable and warm, without trying desperately hard.
Ninjababy is released on 10 September in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema.