It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Casa de los Babys" gets its title from a motel in an unnamed South American country where American women wait while the local adoption process slowly matches them with babies. "They're making us pay for our babies with the balance of trade," complains the always-critical Nan (Marcia Gay Harden) as the days and weeks go by. The women shop, sunbathe, go out to lunch and gossip about one another, and we eavesdrop on conversations that are sometimes cynical, sometimes heartbreaking.
The movie was written and directed by John Sayles, the conscience of American independent filmmaking, who doesn't package it with a neat message because there is nothing easy to be said about the adoption industry. We meet local mothers who have given up their babies for adoption, and local radicals who oppose adoption for ideological reasons, but we also see young children living on the streets.
In one of the movie's most effective passages, two women, one Irish, one Latina, tell the stories of their own longings in monologues. Neither one can understand a word of the other's language, but somehow the emotion comes through. Eileen (Susan Lynch, from Sayles' "The Secret of Roan Inish") and Asuncion (Vanessa Martinez, from his "Lone Star") speak quietly, inwardly, and we feel the deep pools of emotion they draw from.
Another extraordinary scene is by Daryl Hannah, as Skipper, an athletic women who is forever running on the beach while the others look on from behind sunglasses and margaritas. One day, as she is giving another woman a massage, she begins to talk about her three miscarriages, and as she names her babies (Cody, Joshua and Gabriel), we feel how deeply and personally she misses each one.