Polish teens sell themselves to German pedophiles for cash and consumer goods in the heavy-handed Polish melodrama “Piggies.” Vet helmer Robert Glinski crudely belabors the relationship between Polish poverty, access to the fruits of Western capitalism and a collapse in traditional values. Repping something of a disappointment to fans of his more nuanced “Hi Tereska,” the pic is unlikely to see as much fest travel but might touch a chord at home.
Set in 1990, when the updated Schengen agreement removed border controls between Poland and Western Europe, the story unfolds in an economically depressed Polish town just across the river from Germany. Bright, clean-cut 16-year-old Tomek (Filip Garbacz) earns top marks and participates in his church youth group; an aspiring astronomer, he wants to raise money to buy a fancy telescope, but his goals change when he falls for club girl Marta (Anna Kulej), a pint-sized gold-digger who demands expensive gifts.
While Tomek earns little from his job at the local market, his best friend, Ciemny (Daniel Furmaniak), is mysteriously flush with cash and fancy clothes. When Tomek accidentally witnesses how Ciemny earns his money, he’s shocked and disgusted and tries to drag him to the priest.
The shrilly moralistic, cliche-ridden screenplay by Joanna Didik and Glinski fails to make convincing or particularly poignant their protagonist’s sudden transformation from straight arrow to piggie. Tomek’s character turns out to have just two facets — which is twice as many as the other dramatis personae.
It’s hard to say which one-note character appears the most ridiculous — perhaps Tomek’s constantly primping sister (Katarzyna Pysznska), whose motto is, “I don’t care how you earn the money — it’s important that you have it,” or his foul-mouthed, beer-swilling father (Bogdan Koca), who cares only about soccer matches. With family like this, no wonder pimp Borys (Tomasz Tyndyk) and petty criminal Max (Heiko Raulin) must maintain a constant leer to indicate their evil natures.
From the ridiculous way the male piggies dress, even the most clueless parent should have an idea of what’s going on. Costume details, like the rest of the lurid tech package, support the histrionics of the plot, particularly in the over-the-top ending.