Give John Sayles credit. No one paints a scene like the director
of “Eight Men Out” and “Lone Star.” In his
latest film, “Casa de Los Babys,” Sayles chooses a
seemingly odd setting, the adoption market in a South American
country.

Janna Hutz
Johnny B! Where are you, Johnny B? (Courtesy of IFC Films)

“Casa de Los Babys” focuses on six women who have
come to South America to adopt children. The women must remain in
the country for several weeks to work through the bureaucracy and
red tape associated with adoption. Sayles, however, does not make
this a story about these women. He illustrates nearly every player
in the adoption market, from the pregnant girls who give up their
babies to the owner of the local hotel.

Sayles’ choice to display the adoption process in its
entirety is both the greatest weakness and strength of his movie.
On the one hand, Sayles forgoes quite a bit of character
development.

Daryl Hannah, Marcia Gay Harden and other cast members turn in
stellar performances, but no character gets the screen time to
really stick in the audience’s mind. On the other hand, the
film’s nebulous nature allows Sayles to explore an
overarching theme instead of focusing on only one character.

Sayles’ brush strokes are uniquely highlited through
richly textured issues. By showing adoption from multiple sides and
angles, Sayles explains what it is to raise a child, to be a parent
and to be a son or daughter. The portrayal of the adoption process
is the film’s most interesting facet.

“Casa de Los Babys” is not a character study or a
dramatic story. Sayles’ choice of setting, however, provides
a perfect microcosm of parenting.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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