AFI Fest 2013
By Don Simpson | November 17, 2013
Director: Katarzyna Roslaniec
Writer: Katarzyna Roslaniec
Starring: Magdalena Berus, Nikodem Rozbicki, Mikolaj Lubek, Dominik Lubek, Michal Trzeciakowski, Klaudia Bulka, Magdalena Boczarska, Renata Dancewicz, Katarzyna Figura, Jan Frycz, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Danuta Stenka
A scathing portrait of the selfishness and naiveté of teenage pregnancy in modern Poland, Katarzyna Roslaniec’s Baby Blues is centered around an overtly image-conscious, 17-year-old girl named Natalia (Magdelena Berus). It is not motherly inclination or guilt that drives Natalia to keep her infant, she just seems to be attracted to the concept of toting around a little tyke. Perhaps it is Natalia’s half-hearted attempt to keep Kuba (Nikodem Rozbicki), the baby daddy, around; but the perpetual stoner is way too distracted by skateboarding and video games to care about fatherhood. Teenage pregnancy may also be a genetic or learned behavior, since Natalia’s mother is so close in age to Natalia that they could be siblings. That is probably why Natalia’s mother prefers to leave Poland rather than stick around to help Natalia raise an infant.
Despite the economic hardship of raising an infant, Natalia’s obsession with fashion trends and nightclub culture never lessens; for her, clothing, alcohol and drugs will always take precedence over baby food. Natalia would rather prostitute herself to get a low-paying position at a high-end boutique, then get a responsible job with a livable wage. Unable to enroll her infant in daycare, Natalia assumes that someone will do her a kindness without any compensation or acknowledgement of their good deed. By now, Natalia has burned most bridges with people who might have otherwise been willing to help her.
Armed with the blunt sledgehammer of realism, Roslaniec’s film is a dour look — albeit through a candy-colored lens — at the negative influences of consumer culture on modern Polish teens. The image-centric blinders on Natalia’s head are born of the inherent selfishness of Capitalism. The ugly and brutal world of Baby Blues is one in which everyone only cares about their own self-interests; there is no communal spirit, no love or support for fellow humans. It is Roslaniec’s opinion that the moral fortitude of Poland has shattered in the wake of recent political changes and the resulting economic instability. Like the carrot teasingly dangled in front of the horse, high-end products are still out of the reach of the Polish masses, yet they are willing to sacrifice their morality in order to acquire those technically unaffordable goods.