The movie world's biological clock is counting down to May, when "Babies," a documentary that follows the lives of four infants from four corners of the globe, hits screens.
The children are Ponijao, who lives with her family in Namibia, Bayarjargal from Mongolia, Mari from Tokyo and Hattie from San Francisco. It's a peek into four lives which are so amazingly different, yet share so many common threads. For example, you never knew that unintentional animal mauling by youngsters was such an international problem until you've seen the patience tested here on everything from cats to baby goats around the world.
Director Thomas Balmes doesn't overplay the cute. There are mercifully no piped in children's voices or even explanatory straight voiceovers. He just lets the cameras roll in the kids daily lives, often from their point of view with a minimum of understandable dialogue from the adults in their lives.
Look out for Bayarjargal from Mongolia to steal the show, spending much of the movie dealing with a big brother who discreetly knocks him about when only the camera is watching. He also finds himself pushed out into the yard in his stroller by his brother and left among the animals, where an anxious moment gives way to wide-eyed discovery.
Bayarjargal, who contends with a thirsty goat for bathwater, also has the advantage of the most visually stunning surrounding. The scenes of wild, blue mountain skies and the sound of horses running in Mongolia are enchanting departures from what most American audiences likely associate with such early development.