Polish Cinema: Boys Don't Cry (Olaf Lubaszenko, 2000) Poland)

            Boys Don’t Cry (Chlopaki nie placza), not to be confused with the American film starring Hilary Swank that came out almost the same year, is a farcical Polish gangster comedy directed by Olaf Lubaszenko. Lubaszenko is primarily known as an actor, having appeared in films from Kieslowski, Wajda, and even in Spielberg’s Schindler’s ListBoys Don’t Cry is his most known film outside of another crime film, Sztos. The film is indebted to another Polish send-up of gangster films, Juliusz Machulski’s 1997 film Kiler, also starring Cezary Pazura. Like KilerBoys Don’t Cry pokes fun at the ultra-masculine stereotypes of gangster films. It also has a highly self-referential quality – the “bandit cinema” in Poland of this era is highly indebted to Quentin Tarantino as well as the Coen Brothers and Guy Ritchie.

           The film tells a familiar story – two young and na├»ve students hire some prostitutes. When they can’t afford to pay the prostitutes, they become entangled with a local criminal organization. Cezary Pazura is convincing and comical as the cold-blooded killer Fred, while Michal Milowicz steals the show as Bolec, the son of a local mob boss who is trying to win his father’s approval desperately. There are many great supporting roles, including Miroslaw Zbrojewicz as Andrzej, Fred’s pockmark-faced righthand man, and Anna Mucha and Monika Ambroziak as the prostitutes.

           Like KilerBoys Don’t Cry reflects the excesses of the 1990s in Poland – the rise of a moneyed class for the first time and the low-class taste and aesthetics. While there are no doubt references in the film that only a Pole could understand, the humor is broad enough that any audience can understand it. While Boys Don’t Cry is not a perfect film, it is still a humorous take on Poland of the 1990s and reasonably entertaining.


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