Romanian film review: All year’s resolutions- Principles of Life

Now that we are two weeks into a new year: how are those (in)famous New Year’s resolutions holding up so far? All that talk about getting better, more disciplined, more successful and whatnot made me think of one recent film dealing with the efforts to be the best at, well, fill in the blanks. And it is, again, a comedy. Albeit with a saddening side.

The ‘hero’ in Constantin Popescu’s Principii de viaţă/Principles of Life is certain that he is a good parent, a great husband and, of course, a successful business man (not necessarily in this order).

Emilian Velicanu is in a great hurry to prepare for a well-deserved summer holiday with his beautiful wife, their small boy and his teenage son from a previous marriage. He has to settle some things before they leave and this proves to be more stressful than planned. What looks like the promising beginning of a family trip turns into a nasty piece on family problems and generational misunderstandings. And mostly of a man’s complete ignorance of his family’s tensions and his own failings. Or rather of his repression of all these things. In short: this will be a holiday from hell.

Principles of Life is a so-called slice of life, unfolding in twenty four hours and revealing few details of the characters’ lives and dispositions. The film has its flaws, like the occasionally uneven tone (its climax almost slaps you in the face) but it is nevertheless a fairly clever piece on human error, sharply written and well acted. Its strongest attraction is the lead actor, the wonderful and versatile Vlad Ivanov, who manages to make Velicanu more than a caricature. He is annoying, not too bright and definitely trying too hard, but thanks to Ivanov he adds up to more than his macho behavior.

Have a look at the English subtitled trailer:

By Ioana Moldovan, columnist, [email protected]