Daddies, don’t let your daughters grow up to be babysitters, because according to The Babysitters, it’s a gateway to whoredom. Synthesizing the shock tactics of Thirteen with the white-picket-fence-community exposé and pedophilic wet dreams of American Beauty, writer-director David Ross’s debut exists in a fantastical cinematic suburb where every father is hungry for sex with a juvenile vixen and every high school girl is eager to pocket some extra cash (maybe for college tuition, maybe just for a bejeweled cellphone) by screwing a middle-aged shlub on the way home from taking care of his kids. This skeezy paradigm is revealed by studious outsider Shirley (Katherine Waterston), whose crush on babysitting client Michael (John Leguizamo) leads to sex and a generous tip, compensation that gives her the bright idea to establish a prostitution ring with friends. Michael’s reason for initiating an illicit tryst with Shirley is an unhappy marriage to once-wild, now-nagging wife Gail (Cynthia Nixon), but the motivations of Shirley—who quickly begins demanding a 20-percent cut of her call girls’ profits—and her fellow ladies of the night are, alas, left gravely ill-defined. Posing as a cautionary tale about female empowerment-gone-degradingly-awry, the film’s true, titillation-first aims are apparent from the outset, in which the camera slithers through an orgy in a wood-paneled cabin modeled after Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” video. By denying his protagonist a complex conscience, Ross relegates his drama to sordid sensationalism, his eagerness to avoid judging his characters made easier by a refusal to construct them in three dimensions. Shirley is a cipher without an interior life, and thus when her operation is threatened by the actions of an insubordinate employee, it doesn’t prompt her to question the mess she’s made for herself, but instead simply leads her to use the situation as a prime opportunity to show underlings the strength of her pimp hand. Sleazily trading in sex, crime, violence, and drugs, Babysitters may scare a few parents with its youths-gone-wild luridness, yet far more distressing is the fact that male filmmakers still view teenage girls in such offensively reductive ways.
- Peace Arch Entertainment
- 90 min
- David Ross
- David Ross
- John Leguizamo, Katherine Waterston, Cynthia Nixon, Andy Comeau, Denis O'Hare, Lauren Birkell
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