Pretty Baby - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pretty Baby Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 8, 2010
This is one of the more polarizing and challenging period pieces to ever be put to screen, mostly because of the sensitive subject matter and the use of a child actress to play a child. Brooke Shields as child prostitute Violet plays a girl who thinks she knows the ins and outs of adult sexual relationships but is still the same spoiled, inept child she should be. Raised in a whorehouse and privy to the goings on in the upstairs bedrooms, the young girl wants more than anything to be raffled off and made a whore for the same money and prestige as the other women. Sadly she doesn't realize how empty that life is, and that those around her are happy to take advantage the first moment that she's vulnerable. While the story itself is very upsetting, it's good to see the evolution of Violet's character from a spoiled brat into a lost girl. The supporting cast is amazing, including Susan Sarandon as Violet's equally spoiled mother, Frances Faye as the Madame, enamored with fading glamour, and Keith Carradine as the photographer Bellocq, someone who covets the young girl's beauty. For the subject at hand, it's tastefully done, and at no time is prostitution truly glamorized, instead showing how youth can be stolen so quickly it can break your heart.
Super Reviewer
½ December 7, 2010
One of those things I had to see. And I must say that if it didn't make you slightly sick, you need therapy.
Anyway, this is my second (I think) Malle film and something tells me I liked the other one better. The loonngg reaction shots were questionable only because the actor didn't actually emote more, just blank stare for the most part. But kudos to not only shields and her parents, but Malle for doing it. Having a 12 year old naked would get most people laughed out on their ass.
Super Reviewer
December 13, 2009
The red-light district of New Orleans. The story of the women. The photographer. And the prostitute's daughter.
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2009
I'd always heard of this movie and the controversy surrounding it since it showed Brooke Shields naked. I wish now that I hadn't watched it. She's too young to think anything like that about, yes, but even then it's just a boring movie and I saw little redeeming value in it.
Super Reviewer
½ November 9, 2006
Very sad to see what the girl goes through.
Super Reviewer
August 14, 2008
Excluding the acting "skills" of miss Shields even as a child,Pretty Baby hides a deep melancholy Malle would continue exploring from Atlantic City's unfullfilling desires to Damage's forbidden coitus.A great underrated film with a far-fetched emotion of sexual responsibility.
May 11, 2007
this is wonderful and the most very romance drama movie (not much an genre drama movie fan) with an beautiful 12 years old actress brooke shields got wonderful performance movie with something relationship daughter and mother who brilliant performance by susan sarandon living brothel in 1917 new orleans, louisiana and french film director by louis malle who done direct this movie (this is my first time seen by louis malle's movie). there include young brooke shields' nude in few scene and who affair and later on getting married with older photographer named bellocq performance by keith carradine. im so surprise violet (brooke shields) who 12 year old and bellocq is getting married but it only in the movie anyway and brooke shields and susan sarandon are good performance btw quite good drama film by louis malle.
½ June 8, 2011
Malle's arty and picturesque New Orleans whore house movie. Mainly produced to show Brooke Shields naked butt, however it's better than it sounds.
½ April 14, 2008
Pretty Baby" is one of his most beautiful achievements. Telling the story of a lonely photographer's obsession with a precocious twelve-year old prostitute named Violet(Brooke Shields) in New Orleans early in the century. Shields hits all the right notes here. She goes from sexy and alluring, to childish and innocent with a snobbish pout. She is charmingly free-spirited from being raised in a brothel, and often appears totally naked in front of strange men many times her age. Prostitution is all that she knows, and Malle does not shy away from it. Pretty Baby, by Louis Malle raises a myriad of questions when viewed almost thirty years after its creation. "Niggling" questions about the appropriateness of the film itself, the topic of child prostitution, the use of young actresses and actors, the film's moral detachment, whether is should have been made or could be made again all flitted through my mind as I soaked in the beauty of the images. I was also captivated by the sub themes of race, class, and gender inequity were so subtly and effectively presented. Sven Nykvist's cinematography make it, for me, one of the most beautiful to look at films ever made. I love to see beautifully filmed movies and Pretty Baby is certainly that. Malle filmed it in hot and humid Louisiana and Mississippi but his focus on the visuals and his detachment from the characters and their situations give it a coolness and richness which were able to quiet questions in my mind.
½ January 19, 2008
I first seen this movie when I was 8 years old. This movie is as close to child porn as it gets. Especially as an adult watching it, I can't believe it was made.
½ May 9, 2007
I was SOOOOO shocked by this movie. NUDITY!!!! Did Brooke Shield's parents sign a waver so she could run around nude. Its like a porno for people who like to watch little kids naked and whores. OH MY GOSH. Brooke Shields was amazing in this movie. I mean her acting ability. But its like her innocence was taken away with this movie. Gees, I can't believe the stuff they let her do and say in this movie. I don't know what kind of parents she had! GEES!
August 17, 2007
Brooke Shields was another actress who liked playing the typical "Jailbait" role when she was a kid. A creepy movie.
½ June 30, 2007
I love this film with it's period setting of pre WWI New Orleans and the red light district of Storyville, and the story of some sex workers and a photographer and what happens when their worlds coild and change.
August 2, 2015
Strong movie with strong performances especially of Brooke Shields.
January 27, 2015
I didn't love this movie, and I'm not quite sure why. It wasn't that dull, but I found myself a little bored throughout, rarely that interested in what was going on.

Honestly, I think a lot of it is just because I had trouble getting past the relationship between Violet and Bellocq. The film isn't that controversial by today's standards, but I didn't love how we were asked to almost support Violet and Bellocq's coupling at parts. Well, it was probably actually well-done in illustrating the complexity of the relationship; we, as viewers, know that it's wrong, and recognize the uncomfortable father-daughter-like dynamic between them, but we can also sort of understand why they would have this connection. But I couldn't help but hate watching Bellocq be so sexually tempted by this 12-year-old girl. And I didn't like watching the scenes where they were 'happy' together. Maybe this was all uncomfortable by design, but it was weird to watch him playfully mimicking her and the two of them kind of flirting.

Violet and Bellocq's relationship forms most of the narrative, which is probably why I was put off by a lot of this movie. Pretty much everything else, though, I really liked. It was excruciating to watch Violet get auctioned off, but it was the kind of uncomfortable that I knew was intentional. I also liked how much nuance there was throughout the movie; prostitutes weren't portrayed in a negative light, and hardly anyone commented on how uncomfortably young Violet was for sex (especially with men triple her age). It would've been reductive to have the whole movie indicting prostitution and constantly treating Violet like a victim, but instead it gives her agency while simultaneously acknowledging how immature she ultimately is. I like all the bits of humor, treating Violet's first sexual experience with a lighter tone than a lot of other oppressive dramas probably would. And the depiction of Violet's big family is really nice. All the women there have very distinct, interesting personas. It's a pity, in my opinion, that so much time was spent on Violet's relationship with Bellocq.
September 13, 2013
in no way this story may be considered "shallow" but simple! the synopsis gives huge spoilers and reveals almost the entire film in just 3 lines, but the point is not the depth of the story but its simplicity. how something so simple can be so well crafted, so polemic and so intelligent? thank you louis malle for this masterpiece!
November 3, 2013
Perverted, Child Molesting, child PORN, underage sex, viciously disturbing images, against basic children/ women rights ...

Where is the Police & children/women rights from this Child Molesting/Pornography & underage violations?

What type of message was given to the children who were involved in the making of this movie?! Who allowed them to watch & participate in such profane scenes?
How come it is OK to sexually exhibit & touch/do ... this little girl?!!

Do I see double standards?
So, if someone wants to sexually harass a child, it would be perfectly OK if done in a movie in front of Millions & Millions of people?!!
What kind of sick mentality that allows this?!!
May 18, 2013
Very disturbing reality break. Child prostitution was prevalent in North America well into the early 20th century. This gives a good insight into demise of many children during this period. We were totally devoid of child protection agencies. Although many narrow minded artistically challenged people will label this movie as child pornography it is not. There is no suggestion of condoning or promoting of such. Louis Malle used a combination of shock and graphically disturbing scenes to get his message across. To have censored this movie would have been a throw back to the dark ages for artistic freedom. Although the acting leaves something to be desired it is a must watch for those wanting to see a dramatization of the hopelessness of the lives of children in the early Southern States.
April 17, 2013
A must have classic.
February 5, 2012
loved the movie but was not very impressed with the ending :(
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