Baby Ruby (2022) Movie Ending Explained: Of the many unspoken truths about childbirth, postpartum depression is the most hush-hushed. It is something that almost every new mother experiences after the birth of a child and is commonly dismissed as “baby blues.” However, in some cases, this depressive spell may last for days and weeks at end, leading to an extreme mood disorder or postpartum psychosis. If you are still unsure about the effects childbirth has on a new mother, Bess Wohl’s debut feature, Baby Ruby, a tightly-knit thriller drama film, should be your go-to reference. It brings along the discomfort of watching a new mother, Jo (played by Noémie Merlant), start losing her mind and feeling threatened by her baby.
Merlant shines in this drama as a woman whose perfectly scripted life gets dismantled like a tower of cards after she gives birth to the child. Wohl doesn’t begin the film with a picture of fragmentation, easing the audience into Jo and her world. The dismantling of her world becomes more and more apparent as the film progresses, making reality almost indiscernible from the delusion and paranoia that Jo experiences. It is the latter that makes the film an engaging and compelling watch.
Kit Harrington, who plays the character of Jo’s husband, is unlike most new fathers we see in pop culture. He takes care of the baby. He is concerned about his wife’s mental health and does his best to be there for his family. However, I wish this fresh characterization received some more screen time. There are some horror elements in the film, and most scenes before the third act tend to be slightly repetitive in terms of suspense.
Baby Ruby is a complex film that needs to be unpacked to help the audience understand it to its full capacity. If you haven’t watched the film yet, I urge you to watch this psychological master study of postpartum psychosis first and then read this summary and explanation of Baby Ruby. Spoilers alert!
Baby Ruby (2022) Movie Summary & Synopsis
Josephine, or Jo, is a social media influencer who is very successful in the world of lifestyle blogging and has a huge readership. The film begins with a baby shower she is hosting for herself because she wants everything to be orderly and perfect. Jo and her husband, Spenser, eagerly anticipate the birth of their child, Ruby. The first few minutes of the film take us through the final days of Jo’s pregnancy. She seems to share a loving relationship with her husband and is slightly intolerant towards Jo’s mother, Doris (played by Jayne Atkinson).
After the birth of Ruby, who is a crier, Jo’s life turns upside down. Her nights are sleepless, and her days are full of caregiving for baby Ruby, who is always crying. One day, while attempting to click pictures of her baby’s face, the doorbell rings. Jo thinks someone has come knocking at midnight only to realize that it is morning and the workers have come to finish the renovation work. When one of the members of her team Caroline, reminds her about updating the blog so that they don’t lose out on readers, Jo suddenly realizes that she hasn’t gone back to work in a while now and is happily spending her time taking care of the baby. It also strikes her that the house she had so carefully given shape to was now a mess of baby clothes and diapers.
Once, Spenser and Jo fall asleep on the sofa and wake up to see their dog chewing a bone, making her imagine that it might be Ruby’s. The couple visits the child’s doctor and shares a laugh about the incident. The doctor, in turn, points out that nervousness about every unimaginable tragedy is common among new parents. They also express concern about Ruby’s tendency to cry at all times, but the doctor says she is perfectly healthy. Soon, the effects of postpartum start showing. Jo appears to be jittery and impatient, snapping at people for no good reason.
Jo is fixated on the changed shape of her stomach and the stretchmarks on her skin, although Spenser declares that she is beautiful and must try to return to her normal life slowly. She goes for a walk with Ruby, but her stroller accidentally tumbles. Ruby escapes without getting hurt. She also meets Shelley (played by Meredith Hagner) at this time, who introduces Jo to a group of young mothers who are also possibly going through a similar phase in life. It doesn’t escape Jo that they all look so happy and well-rested, making her wonder that the problem may be specific to her and her child.
Spenser proposes they go out for dinner one night and leave baby Ruby under the care of his mother. Jo checks the baby monitor at dinner only to find that it has overturned. Creating a scene at the dinner, they rush back home only to find that everything is fine and Ruby is completely safe. On the same night, while trying to feed her, Jo realizes that Ruby bit her nipple. This makes her believe that her baby is angry with her and trying to take revenge on her.
Slowly, we see Jo becoming more and more fixated on the theory of baby Ruby being angry with her for not taking care of her well enough. Her discovery shows signs of fragmentation as the hallucinations, delusions, and anxiety take their toll. She appoints a person to baby-proof the house so that it is safe ‘from her’ (read: baby Ruby), a Freudian slip that gives away her fears. She starts yelling at the baby and Spenser when he expresses his desire to spend some alone time with the baby.
One day, in a fit of rage, Jo decides to go out for a party with the group of new mothers she had previously met. She got drunk and shared some intimate moments with Shelly in a car, waking up the next morning in a parking lot to realize that she had slept well for the first time in months.
On her next visit to the doctor’s, she picks out a bestseller book on parenting and understands that the baby is trying to send signals to her, ones she cannot fully comprehend. Jo visits Spenser in his workshop from the hospital to inform him of this. The latter gets concerned about Jo’s mental health, so he calls over mother Doris to stay with them. Doris not only takes care of the baby but also reveals to Jo her murderous intentions when she was undergoing postpartum depression. Jo, however, is creeped out by this and wants Doris to stop speaking about her own depressive episodes. Doris responds that it was a widely unrecognized feeling because most mothers don’t have an outlet to talk about the feelings that postpartum causes.
Jo starts to hatch conspiracy theories in her head after this conversation. It is primarily because of her vulnerable mental state. She starts to believe that everyone, including Doris, Shelley, other mothers, and Spenser, is trying to harm Ruby. Her hallucinations make it difficult for her to trust reality. Moreover, she is constantly anxious about the safety of her baby. That night, when Spenser broaches the idea of a professional treatment facility for her condition, Jo picks Ruby up and flees the scene in their car. What follows is a car accident and Jo’s epiphanic realization of the reality of being a new mother to a baby.
What is the reason for Jo’s Paranoia?
In the movie, Jo seems to be suffering from postpartum psychosis. It’s a serious kind of mental disorder that occurs in women after they have given birth. To reiterate, postpartum depression in women is very common in new mothers. It sets in within the first couple of weeks of giving birth. In the case of postpartum psychosis, women suffer from a range of symptoms, including delusions, hallucinations, depression, anxiety, paranoia, mood swings, and, most importantly, a sense of disconnection from one’s child. This is because of hormonal changes during pregnancy and childbirth or an existing history of mental health issues or psychosis in the new mother. It is important to get treated by professional mental health care if the symptoms start aggravating.
What are Jo and Spenser’s professions in the film?
When the film begins, it is clear that Jo is a social media influencer. She runs a blog called “Love, Josephine,” where she updates her readers about lifestyle and fashion. She has also recently launched an online store. As we come to know in the course of the film, her cheese souffle recipe broke the internet, the probable reason for her rise to fame in the influencer world. Spenser, on the other hand, is an artisanal butcher. In the narrative, we see him in his workshop, chopping a piece of animal meat. Jo, however, had to temporarily press pause on her career due to childbirth.
Baby Ruby (2022) Ending Explained
When Jo drives off with baby Ruby in the backseat of the car, she meets with an accident. The car is crushed. Jo is severely hurt. But, according to Spenser, she was found at the site of the accident, shielding Ruby’s crib with her body to keep her from harm. She is admitted to a hospital, where a team of trained professionals cares for her physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.
After a short while, the doctors release her. She confirms that the hallucinations and voices in her head had all died down. Still, Jo is afraid of going near Ruby. Once home, she tries to approach the crib of baby Ruby but is scared that she might hurt her, so she decides to spend some time with her the next morning instead. Spenser tells her that he believes she is a good mother who cares for her baby and should start feeling fine with being around Ruby once she spends a night at home.
However, in the middle of the night, Jo hears baby Ruby cry again. She tries to keep her calm but fails while she heats the milk to feed Ruby, who is crying inconsolably now. The hallucinations are back. This time, she sees someone fleeing with Ruby into the nearby woods. She follows the figure, only to realize that it is her. The fragmentation in her character is complete. At the same time, she shows great tenacity in overcoming her fear of herself. It is a happy ending with Jo coming to terms with her own self and the period of postpartum depression that more or less every mother goes through after the birth of a newborn.