“Baby Mama” is a comedy movie about single moms. In the movie, four middle-class, professional, South African women form a tight-knit bond to support themselves through the joys and woes of being single mums, and their experiences while still searching for love.
This is a comedy drama which aims to shed some light on the stages and stigma attached to being a “baby mama” by revolving around the day-to-day activities of these women in South Africa’s multifaceted society. It is not often you see movies that portray South Africa without its very rich history and daily challenges in focus, but this film takes the bold venture to portray not just South Africans, but women, living in luxury.
Directed by Stephina Zwane whose previous work includes Love and Kwaito (2016), the 98 minute film takes on a narrative style and evokes the feeling of happiness with its bright, bubbly scenes and colourful fashion traditional pieces. The film, released by Zwane’s production company Sorele Media, a media content company formed with her long-time friend, Salamina Mosese, screened at the Toronto Black Film Festival in Canada and the Lights, Camera, Action film festival in Lagos, Nigeria.
Salamina Mosese plays Toli in the film and has an enviable parental relationship with Tumi (Sthembiso Khoza), the baby’s father. With Toli, life seems perfectly figured out. Even her budding romance with the hunky IT technician Michael (Jonathan Boynton-Lee) follows a well thought-out pattern which ends with Michael having a mature sit-down talk with Tumi.
Mosese is seemingly the narrator of the film, but it is Chantel (Kay Smith) who captures the very relatable feeling whereby an unmarried woman unexpectedly gets pregnant, and the sequence of events that follow including the all-too-familiar boyfriend’s denial of the baby. As Shantel prepares to be a first-time mom, her boyfriend Keenan (Donovan Pietersen) does a turnaround after being confronted with the fact that he was raised by a single mother as well. The film in this moment, despite its humorous outlook, seems to be a call to reason for men who have the option of backing out of unwanted pregnancies.
Thembisa Mdoda plays Sandy, a tough acting woman who is still in love with her baby’s daddy. In other cinema worlds, she would be the nagging “ghetto” baby mama without a personality who constantly chews gum. But Mdoda draws up a teachable moment by settling high hopes they will rekindle their love to move on with her life when she realises her child’s father is engaged to someone else.
Joy, played by Dineo Ranaka, rounds off the quartet of the women who all work for the same company. She is smart and free spirited but a bowl of mush beneath it all. She also has an on-and-off relationship with Sizwe, who has a pregnant wife and beats her up as well.
The film’s biggest lesson Zwane wants to pass across is the idea that single mothers are human and deserving of love and support, which she does well, too well in fact. But the film awkwardly ends with the hasty resolution of the drama of three characters; and a beginning of yet another familiar dilemma: Joy has fallen pregnant as well. The script seems to omit the sensitive conversation of birth control, its only reference being when Shantel’s mum asks her about her “options.”
You can almost predict what is going to happen next in the film which was destined to be a feel-good movie from the start. However, the representation of single mothers as smart professionals will definitely leave you with a positive impression. It is a movie by women, for everyone.