Romanian film review – Help for Ukraine & latest releases
The world changed dramatically and tragically in the past weeks. Donations and help are very much needed, and film festivals and projects are doing their best to help, whether by donating directly to filmmakers who are in Ukraine, or generally redirecting their profits to NGOs or the Red Cross.
There are many initiatives around, and many will follow. For instance Astra Film has been hosting documentaries by Ukrainian directors or about Ukraine (you can rent them to view until March 28), while Sergei Loznitsa’s excellent Donbass is shown in cinemas in several cities, and online.
In the more 'mundane' world of seasonal film premieres, two Romanian titles are currently showing in theatres, both feature debuts.
In Mihai Sofronea’s Căutătorul de vânt/ The Windseeker, the main character, Radu, is a young professional who finds out at a routine medical check-up that he has a few months to live, so he just drives aimlessly in his car until he reaches a middle-of-nowhere village where a kind older man asks no questions and lets him stay with him. Radu stays, helps around, and befriends a young woman who raises her son by herself. If you think you know where this is going, you are correct. The only pleasures here are the landscape and the village, tranquil, vast, bathed in warm light, like characters in their own right; and the acting, especially Titieni as the wise older man, who is ubiquitous in Romanian cinema (for good reason, he remains watchable in the best and most absurd of films). Dan Bordeianu as Radu is also solid, but Olimpia Melinte must be the most urban-looking hard-working village woman, she seems so out of place it borders on the hilarious.
Another young woman, this time very desperately pining for the urban, is the protagonist in Alina Grigore’s Crai nou/ Blue Moon, arriving in local cinemas after having won the Golden Shell at the San Sebastián film fest last year. Irina is part of an extended family who own a hotel resort in the mountains, and would desperately want to escape and study in Bucharest. Blue Moon is a family get-together from hell, there is screaming, swearing, fighting, a constant terror for the women, especially by the men controlling the family, whether by physical or by emotional abuse. Violent families are nothing new, but the unrelenting hysterics here are too much even for the reasons eventually disclosed. Having a young woman at the centre who wants to mark her own path is a welcome focus, but since we are hardly allowed to see her emotional struggle what we are left with is watching her being bullied and attacked throughout the entire movie. The audience is pummelled along, to put it mildly. The film does have a restless energy and good acting, and I hope Grigore‘s next film keeps this energy but shifts into a lower gear to let their characters (and us) breathe and reveal more.
By Ioana Moldovan, columnist, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo info & source: still from Donbass at cinemagia.ro