Please Baby Please wastes no time showing off its influences. A leather clad street gang known as the Young Gents dances down a 1950s alley while snapping their fingers. This ends with an encounter with newlyweds Arthur (Henry Melling, The Queen’s Gambit) and Suze (Andrea Riseborough, Possessor). The ensuing sexual awakening changes both of their lives.
The West Side Story imagery may be most obvious, but there are other homages. Scenes at the Blue Angel Club are Lynchian in sound and structure, while the dialogue is straight out of an early Marlon Brando flick. Unlike its characters, Please Baby Please is comfortable in its own skin. Which is not to say the film is a series of callbacks and refers to a different era. Please Baby Please is a steamy look at gender identity. At the center of it all is Arthur’s curiosity as to what a man really is. He refuses to accept what perceived notions of masculinity are. For her part, Suze constantly reminds everyone – including Arthur- that he is no man.
This leads to lots of exposition about gender roles with queer adjacent terminology. Filmmaker Andrea Kramer (Give Me Pity!) – who along with directing Please Baby Please, wrote it with Noel David Taylor – is obviously sensitive to LGBTQ issues. Still, these moments tend to slow things down too much. Please Baby Please is at its best when it is brash, loud, and sexy. While the film’s many dialogue heavy interactions are well written, they are also diametrically opposed to everything else. They feel more like transitional pieces than fully formed segues.
The movie looks consistently beautiful, however. Please Baby Please leans into its campy tendencies with Suze in particular looking more like a caricature than an actual character. Scenes are bathed in pinks and blues and breathy horns fill the perpetually night air. It may be too over the top for some, but it’s zany aesthetics and genuine commentary are a wild and entertaining mix.
Please Baby Please opens in theaters October 28
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