Friday, March 11, 2011

The Romanian film people should see

A couple of weeks ago I was named the winner in a small contest over at Ben Thomas’s blog. The prize was meant to be something my choice, and what a better way to torture someone (ha.ha) than forcing them to watch a Romanian film. Truth be told, I didn’t choose randomly, I chose the best known one and a film that had some kind of influence on more award stuff than people realize.

Things every Oscar blogger should know about 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days:
  • it won Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2007.
  • it was considered one of the most outrageous Oscar snubs back then, when it didn’t even get on the list of 9 finalists for the Foreign Language Film. This resulted in the Academy changing the rules for this branch in an attempt to avoid such further omissions.
  • it was a Golden Globe nominee and it won a couple of prizes from the critics.

I’m not gonna review it, but here’s what I think people should know about it:
  • it’s a good, watchable film. If you’re not from Europe, you might find a bit weird, but most likely in a good way.
  • the story is interesting, the acting is quite good and the dialogue is fine – even if it’s easier for me, as a Romanian, to judge; truth is, you can’t translate everything.
  • most of all, it’s technically great: the cinematography is so right for the mood of the film and the direction (bless this guy) is quite flawless in my opinion.
  • it’s a film about abortion, though it’s actually just an excuse to discover interesting characters.

Ben did me the pleasure of reviewing the film, and please check it HERE.

I also asked him a couple of questions about the experience of watching it and here’s how it went:

Did the enviroment of the film feel "foreign" to you and was there anything surprising or usual about the setting / streets / people?

There's a very definite sense of place and time in the movie, the industrial pre-fabricated buildings lend a drab feel to the cityscape that's very different to the British cities (even the estates) I'm used to seeing. However that did add to my preconceptions of the Eastern bloc before the collapse of the Iron curtain.

How did you feel after watching the film? Sad, depressed, intrigued?

I think it's impossible not to be moved by the plight of the main characters, their lives will never be the same again. Otilia in particular has gone through a huge journey, starting confident and irrepresible she become more withdrawn and defensive to the world in which she lives - even if some of her actions seem to contradict that journey.

I feel like the last scene says a lot about the two characters. Without spoiling it, did you think that was the right ending?

The last scene fully conveys how Otilia and Gabita have reacted to the events, and whilst it's true to say it's anti-climatic, it's also exceedingly real. People don't, on the whole talk about their emotions, especially in the repressive regime they appear to be living under.

Has the film changed in any way your own personal perception of Romania and Romanian people?

I would love to say no. I don't look at Another Year and The King's Speech and believe they fully represent the British people, or that Ingmar Bergman is representative of the Swedes. However this did open my eyes to the way the state could and couldn't influence prejudices and activities during the 1980's; as this is still recent history it's ultimately relevant to the psyche of modern Romania.

If I'd tell you "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" (2005) is better, would you be interested in seeing it? :D

Yes, I'll certainly be planning on seeing more Romanian films over the coming months.

I might write more on Romanian cinema in 2 or 3 weeks, when the Gopo awards (the Romanian Oscars will take place).


dinasztie said...

OMG! I LOVE this movie. It's so intense, brutal and shocking. I just couldn't move after I saw it. I guess it has the greatest effect on people from the Eastern bloc.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Thanks very much, once again, for putting me on to this Alex. It's a great movie and I'll definitely be catching Lazarescu soon.