Got milk? This doc sure does.
BREASTMILK(Dana Ben-Ari). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (August 1). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
Boobs are everywhere in Dana Ben-Ari's debut documentary, Breastmilk. But the movie's not all that titillating.
Ben-Ari follows a group of new mothers from various socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds as they navigate the choices around breastfeeding. In talking-head interviews, they open up about challenges like not being able to produce milk or unsupportive family members. Doctors and professors weigh in on our culture's fraught relationship with lactating breasts.
While Ben-Ari does an admirable job of covering many aspects of this topic, the film soon sags under the sheer amount of information and number of characters.
Breastmilk is at its best when the director departs from standard documentary interviews and playfully films engorged breasts leaking and spurting. These scenes, shot against a black background and scored with classical music, strike an intentionally cheeky note, but most importantly also bring milky mammary glands out in the open. As one man says of breastfeeding, it's not that's he's against it, he's just lived "a lifetime of never seeing it."
With the spurting sequences, Ben-Ari brings the physical reality of lactation into view and asks what it really means to want milk.