With the Christmas spirit (or shopping spirit, depending on the degree of your seasonal cynicism) taking over these days what better film to get you in the mood for family values than a(nother) completely hysterical family episode made in Romania? With its gripping combination of comedy and hard drama, this one makes for a thrilling ride all the way though.
Radu Jude’s name is no stranger to this column: a few weeks ago I spared few superlatives to describe his first feature, the nasty and clever Cea mai fericită fată din lume/The Happiest Girl in the World. His most recent, multi-awarded Toată lumea din familia noastră/Everybody in Our Family has been running in theaters in Bucharest for a few weeks and if his first film got you hooked then make sure not to miss his subsequent take on familial issues. It is just as biting and it also turns up the madness by a few notches. Which proves to be a matter of taste with some scenes in which you might wonder what just hit the family (and you for that matter) but if you go along with the pic's rhythm it certainly leaves you impressed in more ways than one.
Jude proves once again that he is an insightful observer, especially of group dynamics. A divorced father with serious maturity issues goes out to pick up his child for a father-daughter adventure trip and what happens next is a stuff of (family) nightmares: with his own high-strung parents, one fever-sick child, and his wife's new boyfriend, the trip preparations escalate into something very unpleasant and very brutal, in every sense of the word. The acting is good, as usual with Jude's films, and he once again makes the daring decision to play a neat trick on the audience's expectations by casting ultra-known comedy actors in dramatic roles. Stela Popescu and Alexandru Arşinel, playing the protagonist's parents, are known for their light and flimsy TV sketches, aired especially on the never-ending New Year's night, and it is both touching and irritating to see them again in such dramatic circumstances.
The film is currently running at the charming Corso theater, 27 Regina Elisabeta boulevard and - for all you home cinema lovers out there - it is also part of this season’s HBO schedule.
Watch the English subtitled trailer below.
By Ioana Moldovan, columnist