Picks and Pans Review: The Baby Dance
Show of the week
Jodie Foster, who became a single mom last month, is the executive producer of this powerfully affecting drama about an affluent husband and wife seeking to adopt a poor couple's newborn. But its premise and producer aside, The Baby Dance (directed by playwright Jane Anderson from her 1990 drama) succeeds most notably as an incisive study of class conflict in America. After countless attempts at artificial insemination and nine miscarriages, Rachel Luckman (Stockard Channing) and her sterile spouse, Richard (Peter Riegert), both in the movie business, are desperate for a baby. And Wanda LeFauve (Laura Dern), an indigent housewife in Shreveport, La., is eight months pregnant with a fifth child that she and her out-of-work husband, Al (Richard Lineback), can ill afford to raise.
Living in a run-down trailer, the LeFauves might as well be Martians as far as the urbane Luckmans are concerned. But, as Richard tells Al, "you'll always have the advantage over me, my friend. You have the ability to make life." And so, while waiting for the baby that binds them, the couples struggle to get along, masking their mutual distrust with awkward small talk and strained cordiality. Riegert and Lineback are both solid as the husbands, while Channing, as a brittle career woman aching for motherhood, has never been better. But it's Dern who'll break your heart. Alternately resilient and despairing as a faded beauty trapped in an endless cycle of poverty and pregnancy, she gives the performance of her career.
Bottom Line: This Baby delivers magnificently