“Please Baby Please” is what you might call an artsy movie, with a capital ART. That means it is full of moody color schemes and background jazz pounding as the minimal story plays out. The drama is thick and oozing with weight, which many people might call over-bearing. The subject matter veers into a group of people exploring idea about gender fluidity and the curious nature of human sexuality.
Suze (played by Andrea Riseborough) and her husband Arthur (played by Harry Melling) are living in a neon-filled world of mid 1950’s New York. The streets are run ragged with a violent, yet artistic, gang of street-toughs called the Young Gents. This is a hep-cat swingin’ group of “Clockwork Orange” rip-offs.
They sashay down the alleys and streets, like the Jets and Sharks – with finger snaps and syncopated beats. They just happen to find a couple in front of an apartment stoop. And just for fun, they beat the couple to death. Arthur and Suze are standing right across the street when this happens.
Suze is dumbfounded, but Arthur has curious eye set on one of the tough guys. This guy is named Teddy (played by Karl Glusman), and he is dressed like Marlon Brando. The leader of the Gents, named Raymond (played by Matt D’Elia), threatens Suze and Arthur. After all, he knows they live right at that apartment. Suze tells him the apartment number, and the Young Gents promise not to come after them. That is, if they stay quiet.
Arthur and Suze have some hip friends over to talk about what happened. They are all artistic sorts — into beat poetry and esoteric statements. Later Suze runs into another woman who lives in the apartment. She is several floors upstairs and she is a picture of wealth and elegance.
Her name is Maureen (played by Demi Moore), and her husband gives her all types of top-of-the-line appliances. They are colored blue, and all are stuffed in her blue-tinged apartment. Maureen’s husband is always out and about, with different woman. He doesn’t know how many men Maureen has on the side.
Arthur goes out to a seedy little club where the Young Gents hang out. He meets up with Teddy. Arthur has feelings about Teddy, but he doesn’t know how to convey them. Teddy knows that Arthur is hot for him, and tells Arthur that he should stay with Suze. Suze finds that Arthur has some inner feelings that he does not let out to her. But she knows it all revolves around Teddy. She wishes she could be Teddy, so that Arthur would feel passionate about her again.
Another member of the Young Gents, named Dickie (played by Ryan Simpkins), goes out with a nice girl. But she gets on the bad side of the Gents. Some more bad things go down. Then the new girlfriend will no longer be seen hanging around any more. Maureen has a side relationship with a singer named Billy (played by Cole Escola). Billy also does a lot of drag queen work at the seedy little club. Suze and Arthur go in there together, but things do not work out very well.
Suze follows Dickie into a ‘male revue’ movie house. But she sees the ticket taker looks just like Arthur. Suze leaves when a husky vice squad member tells her the place is about to be raided by the police. There is wedding right next door and the couples come out of the ceremony and dance in the street. Maureen has a dance number in her apartment with the members of the Young Gents.
Teddy and Arthur want to get together, in a most passionate manner. But first Suze, and then Arthur need to perform a dance routine to show all of those pent-up emotions. The jazz music roars and rumbles as the Young Gents do all the street-tough things out in the street. Suze gets an outfit that makes her look like Teddy. Arthur is dressed to look like Humphey Bogart, with the fedora and all.
“Please Baby Please” is a fever dream of what a David Lynch movie would look like if it married a Bob Fosse stage performance. There are moody light settings, there is acting that is out of a cabaret skit, and there is hot smothering jazz music. There are sexual overtones of curious men seeking something other than what ‘polite society’ would want for them. There are woman who are wanton and wicked, yet ready to be settled down for the long run. There are glimpses of poverty and abandonment, along with fabulous luxury and achievement.
This is a movie that will attract a particular audience. It might be something that would amuse you, or even shock you. But it is layered with an acceptance of a fluid sense of gender. That might be a positive for you. But some people might be taken aback. The movie is unlike most others out there, that is for sure.
Andrea Riseborough is extremely good as the oddball Suze. She is always outgoing and full of pep and vigor. She rarely has a moment when her performance is not riveting. Harry Melling is taking a big step away from prior roles (mainly from his ‘Harry Potter’ days) with a role like Arthur. He is very subdued and usually quiet most of the time. But even he gets some big emotional scenes. Karl Glusman as Teddy does a good job playing a guy with a chip on his shoulder, a guy who has it all against the world. Demi Moore seems to have fun in her role as Maureen, and it is good to see her back in the movies.
“Please Baby Please” might be an acquired taste for a majority of audiences, but Director Amanda Kramer goes BIG and throws everything against the wall. But a good part of it sticks.
Available with video on demand
Please Baby Please
Directed by: Amanda Kramer
Written by: Amanda Kramer, Noel David Taylor
Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Demi Moore, Harry Melling, Karl Glusman
Cinematography: Patrick Meade Jones
Edited by: Benjamin Shearn
Music by: Giulio Carmassi, Bryan Scary
Distributed by: Music Box Films
Release date: October 28, 2022
Length: 95 minutes
MPAA rating: no rating