Romanian film review – Friends, fish, and potatoes: Morgen

morgen_oscarWhile Marian Crișan’s latest film, the drug drama Rocker, is currently doing the cinema circuit, let’s have a look at his debut since it is exactly because of the lovable Morgen that expectations on Rocker were so high; it is indeed very tempting to compare the two pics.

Which should be done with great care, because they couldn’t be more different. What they do have in common though is their restraint and love for the characters. Crișan did some very good short films – such as the 2008 Palme d’Or winner in Cannes, Megatron before he tried his hand at features. And what a good decision that was. Morgen is a rare find among Romanian comedies, a gently droll film on a very serious topic. But most of all Morgen is a proper, big-hearted buddy movie.

Between a boring job as a security guard at the local supermarket and repairing the roof under the constant supervision of his nagging wife, the laconic Nelu finds his peace of mind while fishing. He makes quite the catch one day: a Turkish man on his way to Germany to join his son. Needless to say, he is trying to cross borders illegally. And again, needless to say, Nelu helps him without any discussion. And the best thing about the conspiracy: neither speaks the other one’s language. Their bond is a purely human one, amusingly played out when peeling potatoes on the porch, while the nervous refugee blabbers incessantly and Nelu keeps saying the only foreign expression he knows: ‘morgen’, the German word for ‘tomorrow’. It is ‘morgen’ that he promises to take his friend to Hungary. But while Nelu comes up with very ingenious plans to cross the border, everyone around him is exasperated by his act of kindness, from the authorities to his despairing wife.

The actors are wonderful and refreshingly common-looking, the images, editing, and music are spot-on. The humor is gentle and unassuming but some of scenes are hilarious, like the ‘ house guest’ sitting behind the couple’s marital bed and watching TV. Three’s company, as the say, and a very funny one in this case.

Morgen is a rather old-fashioned film, both in tone and timing. Like its main protagonist, it is never in a hurry and rewards its patient viewers beyond their expectations. A humanist film without shouting its message out aloud, don’t miss the chance to watch this little gem. Cărturești stores as well as their online shop distribute the film, so waste no time and rush to your nearest shop or computer.

The excellent trailer is great at capturing the film’s spirit; have a look:

By Ioana Moldovan, columnist, [email protected]

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