Baby Blues


The one thing that came to my mind while watching Polish filmmaker Katarzyna Roslaniec’s second feature – she got noticed at the Toronto film festival with her debut Mall Girls – is the fact that this story is universal and could be happening anywhere.

The film follows Natalia (Magdanela Berus), a teenage mom whose life is a constant struggle: she must make ends meet, take care of her baby but also fulfill her need for fun. Being way too young to assume so many responsibilities, she seems to be juggling between her various hats without really knowing what her priorities are. Everything is chaotic and she is pretty much alone navigating through all this mess, the baby’s daddy (Kuba – Nikodem Rozbicki) being even more immature – he gets high while babysitting. As for her young, beautiful mother, she is even worse. Far from being supportive, she is rather competing with Natalia, telling her she didn’t want her in the first place and even seducing Kuba – she acts more like an older sister than like a mother. The fact that both women had babies way too early can be seen as a curse running from one generation to another as you get the feeling that the story might be headed toward a dramatic conclusion, which eventually happens.

If you look past the obvious harsh portrait of teenage pregnancy though, you will realize that the bigger issue here is how kids are now raising themselves nowadays, their independence being simply the result of poor parenting and indifference. Rather than setting Baby Blues in an impoverished neighborhood or making it an ethnical affair, Ms. Roslaniec uses hip kids – they wear cool clothes, drink, go clubbing, work at trendy fashion stores, take drugs. This allows to remove any social context and show how parents and modern society can affect kids whatever their social class or ethnic background might be – the filmmaker Sophia Coppola uses a similar approach with rich kids in The Bling Ring.

What’s even more striking is how Natalia doesn’t realize the consequences of her acts – and they are pretty heartbreaking. While this could be seen as – revolting – stupidity, those situations actually happen pretty often if you pay attention to the news and reflect a lack of both maturity and clearly defined values.

What makes Baby Blues such a powerful work are the mise-en-scene and performances which are fully supporting the story. Everything sounds true and breathes with realism. Reminiscent of filmmakers such as Gus Van Sant (Elephant, Paranoid Park) and Larry Clark (Kids, Ken Park), Ms. Roslaniec clearly understands the youth she portrays and immerses us in their universe. The editing style, photography and soundtrack are also used to make us experience their lifestyle and culture.  As for the actors, despite being quite young, they deliver fresh, authentic performances.

Baby Blues leaves us on a quite scary final note: Natalia wants another baby and unless society takes its responsibility to tackle teenage pregnancy, the situation might be spreading and get worse for generations to come.

Director: Kasia Rosłaniec – Actors: Magdalena Berus, Nikodem Rozbicki – Running Time: 1:38 – Year: 2012 – Country: Poland

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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.