Written and Directed by Marley Morris
Starring Sophia Di Martino, Jade Anouka
BFI London Film Festival Review by Chris Olson
British short film Baby Gravy is a skilfully comedic entry into this year's BFI London Film Festival "London Calling" event which plays host to some exceptional filmmakers. Written and directed by Marley Morris, this LGBTQ tale of searching for a suitable applicant for natural insemination is heartfelt, charming, and delightfully funny.
Starring Sophia Di Martino as Brona, a highly organised, if painfully anxious, mother-in-waiting and her slightly more aloof but no less caring partner Alex (Jade Anouka), the story of Baby Gravy largely takes place in a motorway services restaurant where the two characters await a donor who may be able to supply the titular baby making ingredient. Alongside panicking at her phone and checking the temperature of her vagina, Brona becomes increasingly worried about her best laid plans and whether or not her dream of motherhood will ever come to fruition.
Brilliantly self-aware and honest, Morris's short film dives straight into the fully frank discussions which partners have regarding their futures without resorting to baggy expositional dialogue or cliche. Her characters are believable from the start and their chemistry is totally engaging. Di Martino is a wonderful lead, in particular during an opening solo scene where she chastises herself for the shade of lipstick she has chosen. Anouka is also excellent, offering more of the humour injections but not avoiding the pathos that the story needed. Her beautiful monologue to a toilet stall was a particular highlight.
There was a well crafted sound design accompanying Baby Gravy that was in tune with the story's need to balance cheeky comedy with serious themes. Composer Mike Gunn expertly delivers an atmosphere that is enjoyable yet thoughtful.
A frenetic energy to some of the camerawork and editing during the more chaotic moments in the story, such as when Alex is searching for her partner, added a degree of tension about the direction the film was going which was excellent.
Working through ideas about being parents in the modern world and the expectations that not only society has but the people in the relationship bring with them makes the movie an affecting piece. A discussion about whether or not to christen a child comes up and is explored with a tactful wit. There is also a poignant backdrop that remains a constant for Brona and Alex which is that nothing they do could really be classed as being "normal" if you were to take society's "norms" as a measuring stick. The audience is then privy to them discovering that this is precisely why they are so lucky.