Content Note: attempted rape
Gaby (Lolita Chammah) just moved into a big country house to get some rest. She is anxious, afraid of everything and can’t sleep alone. That’s why her boyfriend Vincent (Félix Moati) is supposed to stay with her. But Vincent feels used by Gabby, more like her handler than her boyfriend and soon takes off. Gaby desperately looks for anybody to stay with her overnight and finally latches herself onto Nico (Benjamin Biolay) who lives like a hermit in the garden shack of a grand estate nearby. Nico just wants to be alone, but despite himself, Gaby gets to him.
I have to admit that I struggled with Gaby Baby Doll, especially with Gaby. While I’m usually here for the portrayal of difficult women, the way she constantly blazed past any boundary really didn’t work for me. Especially since the story proved her right in the end.
I’m not saying that Gaby is an evil person. She is obviously in a lot of distress and has no proper support network or tools to handle her anxieties and get a grip. Of course, she will try anything in her desperation after Vincent leaves her (what an asshole, by the way, to leave her in the lurch like this). But going to the local bar to drag any man she can back home with them expecting to have sex and she just wanting them to be in the room while she sleeps – it’s not her choice to that after exhausting all other options, it’s her first choice.
And of course, if that’s the way she wants to deal with it, more power to her, but watching her instrumentalize the men like this was not exactly something that made her very sympathetic. If she had laid it out for them, and they agreed, fine. If she had shown at least a modicum of a bad conscience about it, I could have gone along. But she doesn’t even seem to realize what an asshole she is being, and neither does the film.
Because she does the same thing with Nico. She basically just walks into his home in the middle of the nigh, never having talked to him before, and lays down in his bed. Then he tries to set boundaries all the time, and she ignores them completely. And somehow, that is the beginning of a beautiful love story? A story of “they make each other better” (with better meaning “more normal”)? No, really not. That’s the beginning of abuse and nothing else.
And it’s not only that I just couldn’t see this as romantic, I got the distinct impression that the film thought that all of this was very funny. It was not. In fact, I found it pretty sad. Halfway through the film, I was wondering whether I should just quit the film. I’m not sure why I didn’t.
Summarizing: No, really not.