Romanian film review – Man and Dog & Bucharest International Experimental Film Fest
Autumn is the season of Romanian premieres, and Ștefan Constantinescu’s Om Căine/ Man and Dog is one worth your time.
At first glance, it looks like another sad movie in which Bogdan Dumitrache plays the suffering man, and you’d be forgiven for having one look at the trailer (see below) and thinking “no, thank you“, but this is one of those rare and happy cases in which the trailer makes the film look weaker than it is (well, for the movie, less for the marketing and distribution team). Dumitrache does play a man tormented and turning obnoxious, and exquisitely so, as usual. His character Doru is a doctor working in Sweden at the height of the first Corona crisis, when Europe was locking down. He returns abruptly to his home town of Constanța for a personal reason that takes up most of the film’s time. It may not be the most original one, or very subtly played out (especially when the anger bursts in hilariously foul-mouthed, poor dialogue), but Constantinescu and his co-writer manage to divert many expectations. It is the strength of a movie that cares for its protagonists in their flawed humanity. Especially the drama of the emigrant caught between two worlds and having none as a home is particularly well done and to moving effect. The excellent Ofelia Popii is a great asset as Doru's wife Nicoleta, albeit less explored in her motivations. The technical specs are also top.
BIEFF, the Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival is also happening until Sunday, October 2. “Handle with Care” is the motto of this year‘s carefully curated, ambitious programme attuned to our current times and troubles in which “care” could be the ever-powerful antidote.
I could only catch one screening, of the international short film competition, Future (After) Life, imagining a heavily automatised world (the dreamy Agrilogistics), work and stereotyping in computer games and their non-playable, background characters (the amazing Hardly Working), or robots talking about life and emotions (the only Romanian entry here, Alina Manolache’s playful, moving 3 Dialogues About the Future). Manolache’s film will also be featured in the national short film competition, showing on Saturday. The weekend also holds a retrospective of Romanian experimental cinema, Speculative Ecologies. Copel Moscu’s wonderful Va veni o zi/ There Comes a Day is probably one of the best-known title in a selection that looks excellent. There is much more to see, check out the programme here.
(Photo: still from Man and Dog by Vlad Bâscă/ Om Câine / Man and Dog Facebook Page)