Pretty Baby - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pretty Baby Reviews

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August 14, 2016
I didn't like the end of the movie. I think she was better off with her husband!
½ September 10, 2015
Louis Malle made his American film debut with this controversial story about a turn of the century 12-year old New Orleans prostitute played by child actress Brooke Shields. The film does work in a Werner Herzog kind of way in that it has a great sense of time and place, but the film falters when it comes to characterization and story. The story definitely has a creep factor Shields is auctioned off to the highest bidder or later when Keith Carradine marries the girl. Shields is good in the role as a child play acting at seducing much older men. Carradine on the other hand gives an unusually mannered performance and abandons his usually very good naturalistic and very relatable of performance. Not that anyone marrying a 12 year of is really all that relatable, but the story may have been more interesting if Malle had chosen to make Carradine's character less annoying and more of the types of charming characters Carridine more often plays. Susan Sarandon is good as Shield's neglectful mom, who abandons Shields at the bordello. Antonio Fargas and Barbara Steele also play employees of the bordello. Gorgeous photography by Ingmar Bergman's director of photography, Sven Nykvist, also helps the film greatly, but I do have to say that the off-putting subject matter, the unlikable characters (Shields included) and the mostly aimless storyline mostly soured me on the film.
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.
Super Reviewer
½ April 1, 2014
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.
February 27, 2014
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?!!
½ September 23, 2013
Bit unnecessary. They could have easily portrayed the same story without the child pornography.
May 26, 2013
good movie, telling what occurred in the early 1900's
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.
March 18, 2013
Violet grows up in a whorehouse where her mother works, and when the child is twelve her virginity gets sold to the highest bidder. During the bidding, the camera zooms in on the sad face of the black piano player - surely this event reminded him of another past of slavery.
½ November 16, 2012
An odd story of a prostitute's daughter marrying early to become more like her mother.
½ November 13, 2012
Well-acted, but this film just makes me feel dirty.
½ October 11, 2012
The storyline is plodding however it was beautifully photographed and Shileds shines in title role.
October 6, 2012
Disturbingly real, hopeless story of a 12 year old prostitute. We may not live in a perfect world, but this film is a stark reminder of how tragic and horrific life was less than 100 years ago. Graphic, gritty and uncompromising.
September 8, 2012
How do you watch the movie
½ September 3, 2012
I would've given this movie 3 stars but it was done in such bad taste. Trust me, I love a good brothel movie, especially one set in new Orleans with a good jazz music score. However, shields was too young for this role n there was a lot of nudity that was inappropriate for an 11 year old yuck. She isn't five prancing around without clothes, she's like 11 in this movie so that is verging on being pedafilia n creepy. How ironic that shes being pimped out in the movie n in real life. That being said, the story got boring after Sarandon left and seemed like it dragged at the end with no big climax or anything. Where is the responsibility or meaning in any of these films message? It seemed the only bad actions where the black n white sex n the mom disappearing, not the sexuality of a young girl.
August 28, 2012
it's a good movie, shocking but good
July 10, 2012
beautifully shot by nykvist, wonderful jelly roll mortonesque music as well. well done overall but there is definitely a squirm factor with this one and some may find it hard to watch....
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