Written and directed by Bess Wohl, “Baby Ruby” tells us the kind of impact postpartum psychosis has on a woman and everything she has to deal with in order to give birth. Noemie Merlant, as Jo, does an exceptional job of bringing us face-to-face with the paranoia and fears of a new mother through her performance. Kit Harington, playing the character of Spencer, shows us how important it is for any husband to not only empathize with the situation but also to provide support to one’s partner in every manner possible. “Baby Ruby” really makes you scared of having a baby, and it is clearly not something that any new parent would want to witness, but in addition to that, it aims to normalize a lot of things that are considered taboo in our society. So, let’s try to understand the kind of dilemma Jo was going through and if she was able to get over it or not.
‘Baby Ruby’ Plot summary: What Is The Film About?
Jo’s life had become all about the baby that was going to come into her and her husband, Spencer’s lives. Though Spencer found it a bit weird that Jo was throwing her own baby shower, she was insistent, as she was very particular about each and every detail, and she wanted everything to be perfect. Jo was from France, and the whole American concept of baby showers was quite alien to her. Jo maintained a vlog called “Love, Josephine,” where she posted updates about her life. Due to her intriguing perspective and engaging content, she had built a community of loyal readers who waited for her to publish her updates. Jo made it a point to reply to each and every comment personally, as she believed that giving that sort of importance to every reader was very necessary. The readership had increased manifold, and Jo had launched an online shop, too, in recent times. It all started when Jo posted a cheese souffle recipe online that broke the internet, and from that point onwards, there was no turning back.
After much anticipation, the day finally arrived, and baby Ruby came into the world. Until then, Jo had become aware of how challenging it was to carry a baby for those nine months, but what she didn’t know was that raising a child was a different ballgame and that she was going to embark on a life-changing journey. It is not easy to cope with things after the body experiences a huge drop in estrogen levels and undergoes such major changes. Like any new parents, Spencer and Jo had many sleepless nights, and at times they didn’t know what to do to make Ruby sleep. Life had become extremely chaotic, and Jo couldn’t differentiate between night and day. She experienced extreme mood swings, and after a month inside the house, just changing diapers and feeding the newborn didn’t help her cause. Jo started suffering from paranoia along with auditory and visual hallucinations, and there were multiple conspiracy theories cooking inside her head.
Jo’s happiest moments were when she was able to make baby Ruby sleep, and her life became all about her, so much so that she forgot that she had a vlog that needed to be run. Caroline, her assistant, reminded her that the readers were still waiting for the baby picture, and since it had been over a month since the last upload, they had started questioning the credibility of the website. But Jo was not in a mental or physical state to care about anything. Her house was a mess, and her life was messier. Spencer was always there to help and had her back at all times, but Jo didn’t like leaving her daughter with him, as she harbored some strange fears. Once Jo woke up startled, she saw her dog chewing a bone, and instantly she imagined the worst possible thing. Though the couple dismissed the issue, they went to see a doctor and told him how nervous they were about parenthood in general. Jo told the doctor that Ruby cried a lot, to the point that nothing seemed to make her stop. The doctor told both Spencer and Jo that their child looked fantastic and that there was nothing to worry about.
The hormones made Jo restless and impatient, and there were times when she just snapped at people for no apparent reason. Spencer knew that she needed to take a break and get her life back. He wanted her to trust him with Ruby and, once in a while, go out alone and meet her friends for a change. Once, Jo had taken Ruby out for a walk when she stumbled with the baby stroller, and for a moment, she felt like Ruby got hurt. Shelly, who lived in the neighborhood, came running to check if she was fine. Shelly took her to meet her friends, a group of young mothers who probably had gone through or were going through a similar phase. Jo couldn’t help but notice how well-rested and happy they looked. She asked them how they managed their lives while taking care of the baby. Jo didn’t want to sound like she hated her kid, but she was curious to know what they were doing differently because whatever she was doing was clearly not sufficient. Spencer finally asked his wife to come on a dinner date with him, as it had been long, and he needed Jo to get some alone time without Ruby.
Jo did go out for dinner, but hell broke loose when, while watching Ruby on the baby cam, she noticed the presence of a weird apparition near the cradle that was whispering something in her daughter’s ear. Jo rushed out of the hotel and rode back home, only to discover that Ruby was safe and that the voice she had heard over the baby cam was Doris, Spencer’s mother.
‘Baby Ruby’ Ending Explained: Was Jo Able To Overcome Her Paranoia?
After that dinner date debacle, Jo started feeling that her baby was angry or disappointed with her. The fatigue, the hormonal changes, and everything else started playing on her mind, and she was constantly losing control of her life. She started seeing her baby as a sinister entity that was trying to trouble her intentionally. She yelled at the baby at times, telling her she wouldn’t let her win. The thought of killing her baby came to her mind more than once. Obviously, her postpartum depression had completely taken over her subconscious, and she was constantly moving away from reality. The hallucinations and visions weren’t stopping either, and she was always angry in her bones, and we saw her losing her temper on more than one occasion and arguing with Spencer when he was just trying to help. In a fit of rage, Jo decided that she would go out to party with Shelly and other mothers, and though Spencer didn’t have a problem with it, he knew that the motive behind it was not right. That night, Jo got intimate with Shelly, and she passed out in her car in the parking lot. It was probably the first time in months that Jo had slept properly. Spencer sarcastically commented on how nice it was to finally be able to spend some alone time with her daughter, and Jo didn’t take it very nicely.
After becoming suspicious that her baby was disappointed in her, Jo began to suspect that “Baby Ruby” was trying to tell her something, but she couldn’t understand her cues. Spencer got worried about his wife’s situation, and he called Doris to stay over for a few days so that she could get some time off. The conversation that Doris had with Jo was probably the most important bit of “Baby Ruby.” More often than we see that people unnecessarily glorify motherhood and put unrealistic expectations on any woman. A mother is also a human being at the end of the day, and it is normal for her to feel certain things, even if they might not be a generally accepted notion or perspective.
Doris had been through a similar situation when Spencer was born, and she talked about it. She told Jo that she felt a strange guilt at times, as she loved her baby but also despised his guts. Doris said that she dreamed of doing the most terrible things possible, and thinking about them made her nauseated. Doris said that there were times when she just hoped that somebody would come and take the responsibility from her so she could go back to being the carefree and happy person that she had always been. The problem was that no mother could dare even talk about such things, but the fact was that it was a widely experienced phenomenon and resisting it just because it seemed unscrupulous was not right.
But Jo didn’t stop making conspiracy theories, and she started feeling that Ruby’s life was in danger. She believed that Shelly and other mothers had killed their babies to free themselves from responsibility. Spencer had realized that his wife needed help, which is why he called for professionals who were coming to take Jo. After hearing that, Jo got even more paranoid, so she took Ruby and fled in her car. That night, Jo met with an accident and suffered grave injuries, though fortunately, Ruby was safe. The doctor released her only after she was sure that she was not experiencing any hallucinations or showing any symptoms of postpartum. The doctor asked her to take everything very slowly and try to do things that made her happy. Jo came back home, and she was scared to even go near and check on Ruby. She was scared that she would hurt her child, and Spencer showed faith in her and told her that she wasn’t capable of doing any such thing. But as soon as she heard her baby cry once again in the middle of the night, all those terrible feelings came back again.
At the end of “Baby Ruby” though Jo had conquered a lot of her fears, she was not completely over them. Maybe with time, she will realize that motherhood is an uphill battle and that she should stop feeling scared of herself. The best thing that Jo had that many other women going through a similar situation didn’t was an empathic husband who always gave her the hope that she would overcome her fears one day and that she was an exceptional mother. Jo needed to know that she was not inadequate for her daughter, and whatever withdrawal symptoms she was experiencing were part and parcel of the hormonal changes that her body had experienced.
“Baby Ruby” is a 2023 Drama Thriller directed by Bess Wohl.