Back in 1978 this film was shocking and controversial when it was first realised; this had to do with the nude scenes involving a then 12 year old Brooke Shields and its full frontal nudity, also the theme, which is child prostitution. Even today the film is a bit uneasy to watch, because of how this 12 year old girl is so up for sex and the fact the camera really likes to show her body. Controversy aside, Pretty Baby is a fantastic film.
Set in 1917 in a brothel, Pretty Baby centres around 12 year old Violet whom is the daughter to one of the prostitutes. All she does is help out round the brothel and one day a photographer named Bellocq catches her eye and she falls in love with him.
The story is told in a linear fashion and the whole film is from Violets eyes. She doesn't fully understand sex and love, despite her claiming that she knows it because she has had sex. Violet is very selfish and doesn't think about others, but for some reason it's hard not to like her.
Brooke Shields does a fantastic Job as Violet, she plays her role very subtly and displays amazing emotional depth. Susan Sarandon plays Violets mother and she was also greatly emotional in her performance. The main acting job is from Brooke shields though and its a shame she isn't really doing anything now.
The cinematography feels dark, moody and very cramped - it's not outstanding and doesn't give us too many memorable images (well maybe one...which I'm not going describe for you). The editing also felt very disjointed and many scenes were brief when they felt like they were going further. The art decoration however is a beautiful recreation of 1917.
Overall; after seeing this film you will most-likely feel unclean and a bit perverted (so take a shower ASAP) and seeing a pubescent Brooke Shields naked may give you nightmares (you can tell because she has really little lumps growing), but there is no denying of how well acted, produced and directed the film is. I highly recommend it if you don't mind its controversial theme and content.
BBFC rating: 18 - For a child prostitution theme