Botoks Review

Botoks has nothing to do with the commercial applications of botulinum toxin, with a Polish KS instead of an X. In fact, there's a prominent disclaimer in English and Polish at the start, distancing this film from the product. What this is, however, is an ensemble comedy-drama centering on four women, all of whom work in a Warsaw hospital.

The sudden deaths of their parents inspires Daniela (Olga Bołądź) and her brother Darek (Tomasz Oświenciński) to join the medical profession, and three years later they are working as paramedics. Magda (Kasia Warnke), an obstetrician and gynaecologist dealing with abortion cases, faces a dilemma when she becomes pregnant, not least because her boss uses it as an opportunity to fire her. Beata (Agnieszka Dygant) has a motorcycle accident and resorts to stealing painkillers. Patrycja (Marieta Żukowska) has challenges of her own, not least institutional sexism. A real doctor, her boss says, is able to piss in a sink… I'll leave you to find out the upshot of that one.

Fast-paced over its two-and-a-quarter-hour running time, Botoks mixes drama with gross-out comedy and some medical material which may adversely affect the squeamish, not least onscreen real childbirth and real breast implant surgery. Many of the stories you may have heard about foreign objects stuck in bodily orifices get recreated here. (The 18 certificate is well earned.)

For its cynical tone, Botoks reveals a sentimental underbelly, particularly when dealing with the subjects of pregnancy and childbirth. The date of a woman's last period is falsified so that she qualifies for an abortion under the twenty-one week limit for a foetus with congenital defects. This is certainly a touchy subject in a Polish film and in Polish society: a year ago, as I write this, Polish women went on strike for a day in protest at moves to restrict the already restrictive availability of abortion still further. I'm not convinced this subplot doesn't turn into a possibly inadvertent pro-life message as the film goes on.

The Polish medical world is as corrupt and venal as the police and mafia in director Patryk Vega's earlier Pitbull trilogy and spin-off TV series, the most recent of which, Pitbull. Niebezpieczne kobiety (Pitbull: Tough Women) made the UK box office top ten when it played the Polish cinema circuit in British cinemas at the end of 2016. It's well acted (Grażyna Szapołowska turns up as the boss of a pharmaceuticals company Daniela goes to work for) and made, and certainly entertaining, but leaves something of a sour taste in the mouth.


Following four women who work in a Warsaw hospital, Botoks is a fast-paced comedy-drama which doesn't manage to avoid sentimentality.


out of 10

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