Reviewing Art-House cinema is not my vocation, even the art-house films that arguably belong to the Coming-of-Age genre. Yet I have attempted it before, with Terry Gilliam‘s bizarre short The Wholly Family. As I established in that review, one can’t help but agree that this type of film is capable of expanding the ways in which one sees the world. Kuba Czekaj‘s 2015 film Baby Bump is such a film – too wild, accurate, disturbing, confusing and messed up for me not to review here.
Mickey (Kacper Olszewski) is growing up. His body is changing, his thoughts go wild and all is up on the screen for us to see – close up, personal and explicit. If you have a puritanical mind, you are guaranteed to be offended – butts, tits, erections, vaginas, hair, blood and other body substances. The filmmakers do not spare anyone from the roller coaster like portrayal of…Coming-of-Age (growing up), while keeping one’s senses (or losing them on the way).
There is no consistent storyline to speak about, only a collage of experiences, thoughts and fantasies presented in a lavish manner. Utilizing modern cinematic techniques: split frames, vignettes ,CGI animations, rapid cut edits and intriguing sound and special effects, the filmmakers grasp the attention of the viewer. At times it’s shocking, provoking and, in my case, severely confusing (though after a while things start to make sense). All of the adjectives that I have used to describe the 2012 short film from Switzerland Hazel (Flamboyant, quirky, funny, provoking and original) also perfectly fit the Polish, Baby Bump.
It is not a coincidence that I have referred to two short films while reviewing Baby Bump. I genuinely believe that it would have been more effective as a short film than a full feature — thus sparing the viewers from a surrealistic overload (even though some people may love it just because of that).
The bluntness of the filmmakers in portraying Coming-of-Age experiences in this film reminded me of Kay Pollak‘s 1980 film Barnens ö (Children’s Island). I doubted that any director of the increasingly non-tolerant society that we live in, filled with non-genuine concerns blown out of proportion, would have the courage to portray growing up in such “in your face”, daring manner.
Due to the nature of the film, acting is hard to judge, yet Kacper Olszewski manages to be extremely cute and photogenic as Mickey in some scenes (shot in extreme close-ups), yet slightly repulsive in others. The film is about his character and told from his child`s perspective. It’s a character study of a kind, yet one focusing on the physiological and psychological changes that occurs for all of us when we leave our innocence behind.
I enjoyed the film, yet hesitate to whole heartily recommend it knowing that many audiences will find it way too provoking – even vulgar at times. The biggest drawback to me is the lack of a consistent narrative, which also makes the film unsuitable for repeated viewings (unless one decides to decipher the symbolism Baby Bump is filled with).