Rated 4.0

This short, sweet documentary by French filmmaker Thomas Balmes was filmed in Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and San Francisco. And it is, of course, cute as a bug’s ear. Its ostensible subject is a kind of “The Family of Man” universalism applied to infants from around the world, but it doesn’t press too hard on any of that. There’s no voice-over narration whatsoever, and there’s almost no insistent editorializing in the montage of scenes from the four different families and locales. There are marked contrasts between kinds of child-rearing—high maintenance, gadget-happy, and indoors in Tokyo/San Francisco; free-style, pastoral, laissez-faire, and outdoors in Mongolia/Namibia. But most of the film is organized around some very basic motifs—babies at play, babies with cats and dogs, babies with other babies, babies with their mothers, babies and bodily functions, etc. The Mongolian and Namibian scenes are particularly delightful for their earthy lyricism, but there’s a touch of dubious sentimentality in the juxtaposition of those scenes’ exotic primitivism with the domestic congestion and clutter of the San Francisco scenes. Pageant Theatre. Rated PG