Baby Ruby (2023) Film Review

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Baby Ruby: Exploring the Depths of Postpartum Depression

The Unspoken Hardships of Motherhood

The decision to have children is undoubtedly one of life’s toughest choices. Parents are often warned about the sacrifices and challenges that come with raising a child, but society tends to downplay the hardships faced by mothers before, during, and after childbirth. Postpartum depression, for example, is often treated as a taboo subject, perpetuating a culture of silence around it. Bess Wohl’s directorial debut, Baby Ruby, delves deep into the complexities of postpartum depression, highlighting the struggles and fears experienced by new mothers.

A Glimpse into Jo’s World

Baby Ruby follows Jo, portrayed by Noémie Merlant, an online lifestyle influencer whose life takes a dramatic turn when she welcomes her newborn daughter, Ruby. Initially, Jo’s experiences are relatable and normal, reflecting the challenges faced by many new parents. However, as time passes, Jo’s perception becomes distorted, and she is unable to distinguish between her own paranoia and reality. Postpartum depression engulfs her, causing her to see threats everywhere and believe that even her own child judges her as a bad mother. Meanwhile, her loved ones question her sanity, unsure of how to help her through this difficult time.

Noémie Merlant’s Captivating Performance

Noémie Merlant faces the challenging task of bringing Jo’s character to life in Baby Ruby. As Wohl’s script keeps the focus on Jo and her psychological state, Merlant delivers a standout performance. She portrays Jo’s restless isolation, overwhelming dread, and immense suffering with a tragic authenticity. The audience can’t help but empathize with a woman longing to be a good mother, yet hindered by the trauma of labor and the fear of the unknown. The urgency and high stakes of the film resonate strongly because they stem from a very real issue, encouraging a much-needed conversation about postpartum depression.

An Ensemble That Adds Depth

While Merlant takes center stage in Baby Ruby, the supporting cast plays crucial roles in enhancing the film’s narrative. Kit Harington, known for his role as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, portrays Jo’s husband, Spencer. In a refreshing departure from his previous character, Harington’s performance embodies the typical obliviousness of many men to the unique challenges of motherhood. Spencer’s constant downplaying of Jo’s emotions, even with good intentions, serves to highlight the stark contrast in experiences between men and women. Jayne Atkinson shines as Doris, Spencer’s mother, delivering a chilling monologue about the complexities of motherhood and the societal pressures that prevent women from discussing their struggles openly.

Embracing Psychological Horror

Baby Ruby incorporates elements of psychological horror to create an immersive experience that mirrors Jo’s fears. While this approach adds a visually captivating dimension to the film, it also presents a challenge. At times, the horror sequences become a distraction that detracts from the main narrative. Although it could be argued that this overwhelming horror enhances the portrayal of a woman losing control of her life, it ultimately sacrifices time that could have been used to develop more cohesive subplots. For example, Jo’s encounters with seemingly sinister mothers create unease but do not contribute significantly to the overall story.

A Flawed Yet Essential Film

Baby Ruby stands as a commendable piece of experimental cinema, successfully communicating many of its intended messages. Not every aspect is executed flawlessly, but the film’s bold genre-bending components linger in the viewer’s mind. It prompts introspection on how our society often neglects and fails to support mothers during their most vulnerable moments. This risky and thought-provoking film may not appeal to everyone, and it may even offend some viewers. Nevertheless, it is a passion project that captures the vision of director Bess Wohl, aiming to initiate a long-overdue conversation.


Baby Ruby is an exploration of the depths of postpartum depression, shedding light on the challenges faced by new mothers. It confronts societal expectations surrounding motherhood and challenges the taboo associated with discussing postpartum depression openly. Noémie Merlant’s captivating performance as Jo brings the character’s struggles to life, while the supporting cast adds depth to the narrative. Although the film’s psychological horror elements may occasionally distract from the main storyline, its important themes and attempts to spark conversation cannot be overlooked. Baby Ruby is a risky endeavor that delves into uncharted territory, demanding attention and reflection.


1. Is Baby Ruby based on a true story?

No, Baby Ruby is a fictional film that explores the subject of postpartum depression. However, it draws inspiration from real-life experiences and aims to shed light on the challenges faced by many new mothers.

2. How does Baby Ruby portray postpartum depression differently?

Baby Ruby takes a unique approach by incorporating elements of psychological horror to depict the experiences and fears of the main character, Jo. This blend of genres adds an additional layer of intensity and immersion to the film.

3. What are some other films that tackle the topic of postpartum depression?

Other notable films that address postpartum depression include “Tully” (2018) starring Charlize Theron, and “The Yellow Wallpaper” (2012) based on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s renowned short story.

4. What message does Baby Ruby aim to convey?

Baby Ruby seeks to open up a dialogue about postpartum depression and challenge the societal stigma surrounding it. The film highlights the need for greater understanding, support, and empathy for new mothers who may be facing this challenging condition.

5. How can viewers support those experiencing postpartum depression?

To support individuals experiencing postpartum depression, it is crucial to offer non-judgmental support, lend a listening ear, and encourage them to seek professional help. Educating oneself about this condition and advocating for improved mental health resources is also important.