Romanian film review – A Higher Law & The White Night of Romanian Film
Since mentioned in the previous column, Balaur/A Higher Law has been released in cinemas nationwide. One of the year’s most awaited premieres, Octav Chelaru’s feature debut is stacked with grave topics. Its protagonist is a religion teacher and the wife of the local priest in (what I assume is) a smaller town. Always discrete, acting as expected from a teacher, a woman and the wife of a cleric, Ecaterina finds herself on very thin ice when one of her pupils makes no attempt to hide his attraction to her.
From here on, things go downhill, just as you might expect, and then downright plunging like not even the most imaginative viewers might anticipate, culminating in an over-the-top climax that made the audience giggle on the night of the film’s June premiere at Transilvania Film Festival.
It is a shame that the last part takes such a manic turn because what Chelaru achieves before is an earnest, compassionate study of a woman confined by expectations both at home and in public, helped by the wonderful Mălina Manovici as Ecaterina. Alexandru Papadopol, usually seen in light comedies, is a great watch cast against type as her husband Dragoș, a strict and controlling partner. Outwardly amiable and bearing the face of a beloved funny face, the threat of him bursting at any moment is particularly efficient.
This week is full with other films from the TIFF selection, and some more. The traditional Noaptea albă a filmului românesc/ The White Night of Romanian Film is a marathon of Romanian movies, both feature-length and short, showing on one evening in cinemas across the country. This time it is on September 16 in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Timișoara, in the newly opened cinema Victoria. The most recent releases are here, as are brand-new pics still to have their premiere. The most detailed info on the night is on their Facebook page.