Baby, Don’t Cry @ Fantasia Film Festival

Fantasia brings us another in a long line of odd films it has screened during the festival. For its world premiere, the American film Baby, Don’t Cry, directed by Jesse Dvorak (first feature film), features the width and breadth of Zita Bai’s talent. She is the screenwriter, designer and lead actress of the film. It is a coming-of-age/teen romance film that will not remind you of a John Hughes film being very twisted and dark.

Living in suburban Seattle, teenager Baby (Zita Bai – Emmett) is an outsider. She is different, so does not have any friends. Living a rather isolated life in which she just takes care of her mother (Helen Sun – appeared in episodes of television’s Weeds), who seems to have mental health issues. She dreams of taking photos or films which compels her to steal a camera from a sleeping girl on the bus. This is how she meets Fox (Vas Provatakis – from television’s Batman Beyond: The Series), a 20-year-old punk living a rather rough life.

The two outsiders are drawn together quickly and hard. They become romantically involved. A strange combo with Baby’s odd viewpoints on life and Fox’s proclivity for violence. On the surface, it seems like a relationship that would not work and yet, somehow they become each other’s lifeline.

Certainly more Sid and Nancy than Troy and Gabriella from High School Musical, the film has a raw and gritty feel to it supplied equally by the visuals by cinematographer Adam Leene (18 Days in September) and the performances by Bai and Provatakis. Plenty of emotions explode from the screen, even during the rather silent scenes. A lot is simmering just beneath the surface.

What was really enjoyable here was how different a film this is from the usual teen romance tripe. Bai, as an actress and writer, demonstrates a unique vision and way to tell a story. Showing that even one of the most overused genres does not have to tread along the same expected path.