It may not look like it, but summer is almost here! And with it, the multiplex summer season, what you might call 'light entertainment', lots of comedies (romantic or otherwise) and action films. Preferably in 3D.
Most of the titles are usually Hollywood blockbusters so it's nice to see a Romanian film competing with them. And indeed, Selfie has it all: young beautiful people, parties, sunshine, beaches, fast cars, short dresses, lots of alcohol, some weed, and more magic.
When the prom night turns out to be a massive bore, high school girls Yasmine, Roxana and Ana flee Bucharest to hit the clubs of Mamaia. They meet three (of course) young men and it is one adventure after another from here. Meanwhile, Ana's ultra-protective father hits the road with his ancient bus to find his disappeared daughter, taking Roxana's hippie mother along and their ride is just as crazy.
The ending finds the two groups re-united at the Vama Veche police station, where they have to battle legal matters and a gluttonous, stupid police chief to get back in time to Bucharest for the girls' final exam. But the film is not only about fun, of course, it's also about family constellations, friendships, the courage to follow one's dreams. Well, basically about growing up. Parents included.
If you've watched at least one summer/romantic/teenage/coming-of-age flick, you know how this one works and where it's heading: there's a rebellious, sexually daring girl (Yasmin), the funny, chubbier one (Roxana, although I wonder where her supposed chubbiness is) and the artistic virgin (Ana). The group of guys they meet is similar: the bad boy (Mihai), the life artist and hobby magician (George) and, well, the dorky virgin (Bogdan).
The parents are also mere types: there's Ana's almost tyrannical father, with a hilarious nostalgia for Ceaușescu, Roxana's young, carefree mother (both single parents) and Yasmine's well-off parents who mistake love for money. As formulaic as it sounds though, the types of young adults and parents are not that far from reality.
The events and the ending are also easy to anticipate and the dialogue made me slap my forehead more than once. Otherwise, Selfie is loud, fast, and too long. The acting ranges from terrible to fine, with some hilarious cameos from Mihaela Rădulescu as Yasmin's mother and Florin Călinescu as the moronic police officer. The humour also ranges from the terrible and unintentional to some genuine chuckles, especially in the scenes featuring Ana's father.
When I watched Selfie, the cinema hall was almost sold-out, which is a rare thing for a Romanian film. The audience made up of high-schoolers (at least as far as I could tell in the dark) was clearly enjoying themselves so it seems the film really a nerve with its target audience. And I have to admit, as silly, formulaic, and superficial as it is, it's got an infectious joy and more than a few funny moments. And the fact that it doesn't pretend to be more than it actually is – a light, summer teenage comedy – deserves one big bonus point.
Selfie is running in multiplex cinemas across the country; you can check the venues and screening times at cinemagia.ro.
By Ioana Moldovan, [email protected]