Please Baby Please (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Dennis Seuling
  • Review Date: Jun 14, 2023
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Please Baby Please (Blu-ray Review)


Amanda Kramer

Release Date(s)

2022 (June 27, 2023)


Rivulet Media/Paris Film Inc (Music Box Films/Vinegar Syndrome)
  • Film/Program Grade: C
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: A+

Please Baby Please (Blu-ray)

Buy it Here!


Please Baby Please owes much to West Side Story, A Clockwork Orange, and Scorpio Rising, the latter Kenneth Anger’s homage to leather-clad bikers. It deals with gender identity, masculinity, homoeroticism, and idealism.

Arthur (Harry Melling) and Suze (Andrea Riseborough) are a 1950s intellectual couple living in a dangerous neighborhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. One night, they witness a brutal attack by a delinquent gang. Frozen in place, they are nonetheless excited by the gang leader, Teddy (Karl Glusman), who resembles Marlon Brando and adopts the actor’s mannerisms and style, including the leather jacket and hat he wore in The Wild One. Teddy’s criminality and muscularity excite both Arthur and Suze in different ways.

Suze is unsatisfied with her timid, nonconfrontational husband. Arthur is aroused by Teddy’s masculine swagger. The encounter alters the couple’s relationship and leads them to wonder about the traditional male and female roles they have followed as a matter of course. Most of the film centers on their sudden questioning of gender roles through intense conversations and physical encounters.

In a scene immediately after the attack, Arthur and Suze are among friends, discussing the incident in philosophic terms. The dialogue has an authentic ring, as these bohemian types sit around casually commenting on what the encounter has revealed. Rather than empathizing with Arthur and Suze over a situation that could have ended badly for them, their friends debate gender roles. Feeling guilty and defensive, Arthur says, “I won’t be terrorized into acting like a savage just because I’m a male.” A discussion of masculinity and what that means follows.

As the film progresses, it cuts to a number of fantasy sequences featuring Arthur and Suze. Teddy, whose image lingers for both of them, figures prominently in these scenes. With blue-filtered lighting and smoky sets, semi-erotic visions come to life as sensual music plays on the soundtrack.

The contrast of personalities is fascinating, as Riseborough’s Suze transforms from a dutiful wife and companion to a nearly feral, aggressive woman who asserts herself with frightening intensity. Meanwhile, Arthur can’t get the image of Teddy out of his mind. From the outset, director Amanda Kramer blends machismo with gracefulness as the gang—the Young Gents—make their way down a dark street, occasionally performing balletic movements. But unlike the Jets and Sharks in West Side Story, their main concern isn’t turf. It’s preening and asserting their masculinity through violence.

The film makes observations but doesn’t draw conclusions. Maybe that’s the point—that femininity and masculinity are not simple concepts, but extremely complex. In an interesting cameo, Demi Moore appears as Maureen, a glam neighbor who refuses to be a mere wife. The look of the film is integral to its impact. Hair, make-up, costuming, and photography contribute to a unique 50s—one conjured by a dream sensibility.

Director Kramer has created a bizarre version of a 50s milieu. In addition to fantasy sequences, there are musical interludes and assorted subplots. Dialogue is stylized. The script, by Kramer and Noel David Taylor, tends to be sluggish and repetitive, with pace suffering. Though the film runs only 96 minutes, there’s room for some judicious editing.

The best thing about Please Baby Please is Riseborough’s performance. We see her change, first in small ways, but later more dramatically. She contorts her face and alters her voice into something more at home in a horror film. Suze’s primal scream is her way of showing how gender is not merely biological, but a determined state of mind.

Please Baby Please was shot by director of photography Patrick Meade Jones and released in the widescreen aspect ratio of 2.25:1. The cinematography is extremely stylized in many scenes. The streets of the Lower East Side look cinematically beautiful, with no homeless people in doorways, garbage cans overturned in just the right place, no sign of scurrying rats, and an absence of deep, ominous shadows. This is movie-Lower East Side, where tough gang members can change a walk into a dance and color is vibrant, not unlike a vintage musical. Not quite MGM Technicolor, the hues are artistically planned. In scenes of Arthur and Suze talking with their friends, the color scheme is markedly different, tending toward earth tones. It’s when the two principals challenge their sexual identities that the color palette explodes in rainbow shades. Costumes suggest the 50s, but have an air of an otherworldly Neverland. The camera lingers on body parts and expressions to wordlessly indicate what’s in the minds of Arthur and Suze.

There are two soundtrack options: English 5.1 and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Optional English SDH subtitles are available. Dialogue is clear and distinct. The musical score by Giulio Carmassi and Bryan Scary is atmospheric and appropriately complements the surrealistic elements of the film. At a poetry reading, a drummer punctuates key phrases with a single beat.

Bonus materials include the following:

  • Audio Commentary by Amanda Kramer, Alisa Torres, and Matt D’Elia
  • Cast & Crew Q&A from L.A. Premiere (41:24)
  • Alamo Drafthouse No Talking PSA (1:01)
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes (9:24)
  • Original Moldboards (63 in all)
  • Isolated Score and Sound Design
  • New Video Essay by Chris O’Neill (7:03)
  • Requests Short Film (6:03)
  • Sin Ultra Short Film (8:28)
  • Trailer (1:38)
  • Character Teasers (3:53)

Audio Commentary – Rather than providing solid information about the making of Please Baby Please, writer/director Amanda Kramer and actors Alisa Torres and Matt D’Elia adopt a self-congratulatory tone to praise nearly every moment of the film. They also praise Riseborough’s expertise at improvisation. They do discuss filming challenges, such as getting adequate coverage for a scene with many actors, using a manual zoom without calling attention to it, deciding what other actors should do when Suze has a long monologue, and the lack of background actors, making a New York City street look oddly deserted. Amanda Kramer, in particular, is rather stingy with behind-the-scenes information and tends to giggle a lot, which makes her sound unprofessional.

Cast & Crew Q&A – This Q&A, moderated by April Wolfe and Darren Sten, features Amanda Kramer; actors Ryan Simpkins, Alisa Torres, and Matt D’Elia; editor Benjamin Shearn; cinematographer Patrick Meade Jones; and production designer Bette Adams. Production, gender fluidity, actors’ and director’s vision, the look of the film, and influences on the script and direction are discussed.

Alamo Drafthouse No Talking PSA – Actor Karl Glusman, as Teddy, on a motorcycle turns abruptly to the camera with a challenging expression as the words “You Talk, You Text, You Kill the Vibe” are flashed on screen.

Deleted Scenes and Outtakes – Two scenes shortened for the final film and four different takes of a scene featuring Andrew Riseborough are shown.

Original Moldboards – Sixty-three photos, posters, movie stills, advertising layouts, archive photographs and other materials that served as inspiration for the film can be seen, one at a time, by clicking forward.

Isolated Score and Sound Design – The music and sound effects can be heard exclusive of dialogue.

New Video Essay – Chris O’Neill notes that Please Baby Please features a bold color palette—cool blues, exciting oranges, passionate reds. Mainstream attitudes clash with underground principles of gender and sexual politics. The attack witnessed by Arthur and Suze will change them. Arthur is attracted to the leader of the gang while Suze dreams of becoming one of them. The couple find themselves cut adrift from conventional ideals they have abided by until this moment. The opening sequence is inspired by West Side Story. Arthur looks yearningly at the object of his infatuation. Director Amanda Kramer creates a highly expressionistic world where emotions are constantly on the surface, not only in performance and dialogue but also in the smoky score, unnerving sound design, and stylized cinematography. The result is comparable to a feverish erotic dream.

Requests – In this short film directed by Amanda Kramer, several people ask for a song important to them. Close-ups show expectant audience members. On stage is a male singer with two female back-up singers. He talk-sings, with back-up singers echoing his words or answering questions he poses. When an impatient audience member goes up on stage to ask for the song, singers freeze in place.

Sin Ultra – Five people, facing camera, walk in place. One by one, they punch a time clock. They work at their stations mechanically. A woman is brought in with blood on her arm. The workers photograph her and take notes. The photos are shown kaleidoscopically. The woman awakens and dances as the workers watch. At end of day, workers punch the time clock and leave. They walk, backs to camera, in place. Directed by Amanda Kremer with music by Purelle.

Character Teasers – A series of characters from Please Baby Please are highlighted, with the name of the character, the name of the actor portraying the character, and brief moments from the film showcasing them. Among them are Suze, Harry, Teddy, Maureen, and members of the Young Gents gang.

Please Baby Please has its fascinating moments but is very light on plot. More a series of episodes in Arthur and Suze’s exploration of gender fluidity, it draws us in as voyeurs rather than as people truly interested in the characters.

- Dennis Seuling