Romanian film review – Mikado & Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest
Film fans are spoilt for choice as film festival Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest kicks off in the capital with a selection of unmissable titles and Luc Dardenne among guests, and Emanuel Pârvu’s second feature as a director showing in local cinemas.
Marocco (international title Mikado) is actor Emanuel Pârvu’s second feature as a director, and one of my favourite releases of the year. A taut, clever drama, Mikado follows a seemingly small act that leads to a full-blown tragedy of classic proportions. It all starts with teenager Magda gifting a necklace to a girl at the children’s hospital where she volunteers together with her boyfriend. Her suspicious father thinks she is lying and assumes it got stolen, and his bullying actions have consequences.
Șervan Pavlu is excellent as always as the controlling father who might realize his mistake too late, and so are the entire cast. The writing is also mature enough to allow for nuance, and the pacing is fast and gripping. Not only a commentary on family constellations, morality, and a cut-throat, pragmatic society, Mikado is also a great thriller, nail-biting in its unfolding. When you think you know what may come next, it piles on more. So much so that the ending tries too hard to tie it all together and turn the tables, but it does not undermine too much the intensity of everything leading up to it.
Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest (in translation “Cannes films in Bucharest”) is an annual showcase of the prestigious festival’s selected titles. The main event is in Bucharest (21 – 30 October), with a part of the programme also travelling to Cluj (21- 23 October) and Timișoara (28 - 30 October). From this year’s winners (Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness, Park Chan-Wook’s Decision to Leave, Marie Kreutzer’s Corsage) to films selected in other fests and recent Romanian titles, this is fine, unmissable stuff.
The Opening Film is Alexandru Belc’s beautiful Metronom, which will be released nationally on 4 November (more on the pic in a future column). For me, the most exciting event is an homage to Belgian auteur filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. The latter will also attend and participate in a talk at cinema Elvire Popescu on 23 October at 8pm. For decades, the Dardennes have made some of the most relevant, touching films, always empathetic, insightful, and attuned to social crises and issues. Their films are called “social”, an accurate attribute but in no way expressive of how unforgettable these seemingly ‘small’ movies are. Their latest drama, Tori & Lokita, will be screened, as well as The Unknown Girl (2016) and The Kid with a Bike (2011), one of their very best, and most hopeful. The festival also pays homage to Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini and –as it should be– to the recently-deceased Jean-Luc Godard. All great, but if you do find yourself with limited time for movies, go for the Dardennes. Their endless humanity and empathy are much needed in these times.
By Ioana Moldovan, columnist, email@example.com
(Photo: Marocco / Mikado Facebook Page)