[Review] Breastmilk

To be honest, I’m out of my element with this one. I’m at that age where all of my friends are starting their families, and being a single guy surrounded by married couples and kids has been a huge change of pace from my early 20s. Lately, I’ve been on the receiving end of parenting from who I consider to be a “Super Mom,” getting a very detailed perspective on child rearing from a maternal point of view. In saying that, I felt like watching Breastmilk, a documentary on breast feeding, would be a more formal extension of those conversations. I didn’t exactly get what I was looking for… then again, I don’t really know what I was trying to get out of a documentary on breast feeding.

Director: Dana Ben-Ari
Rating: N/A

Release Date: August 5th, 2014 (Purchase Here)

Breastmilk follows a handful of women through their first year of motherhood, linked together by the topic of breast feeding. Based on my external conversations on the subject, I know that breast feeding is very important and nutritious for newborns. However, I don’t really know why. I was hoping that Breastmilk would illuminate the pros and cons of breast feeding… but it doesn’t do that. In fact, where most documentaries will have a stringent narrative (complete with a narrator guiding the documentary along), Breastmilk follows a loose outline over the course of the year, keying in on specific points relating to the trials and hardships of breast feeding.

Without the proper background information, I don’t know why women choose breast feeding over formula. Breastmilk does hone in on the emotional and psychological connection a mother has with her child through breast feeding, but I was expecting a more scientific explanation for it.  I really love loose narratives in documentaries, as it lets the subjects (and editors) set the tone for the films; however, I guess I just had too much of an expectation that, ultimately, can’t be wholly held against director Dana Ben-Ari.

Film still from Breastmilk

In saying that, I’m obviously not the demographic Breastmilk was targeting. I think the documentary would be a great supplementary tool for expectant mothers to see what breast feeding is like over the course of a baby’s first year alongside the standard texts recommended by doctors. However, it doesn’t inform or educate as much as I think it could have. As a single male in his late-20s, I guess what I expected were first-hand, entertaining lessons on breast feeding directly from first-time mothers. Instead, I got inundated with stories about latching, inabilities to produce excess breast milk, and more. While I loved learning about the other aspects to breast feeding, I still felt slighted not truly being explained the benefits of it in the first place.

Geoff Henao

Geoff Henao is a writer/kinda photographer affiliated with the Chicago collective LOD. His interests include film, punk rock, cute girls, graphic novels, video games, and the Chicago Bulls. He's funny sometimes.

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