Romanian film review – Movies to Watch Now: 5 Minutes Too Late & Collective
In a time when everything is happening online, one film is doing cinema rounds, physically! With its initial premiere on 27 March canceled, the team of 5 minute/5 Minutes Too Late is now trying again to tour theatres since November 20, after an online premiere (somewhat ironically, but a good decision to make it available country-wide). Right now it is showing in several cinemas in Hunedoara, Caraș-Severin, Gorj, and Harghita, and more cinemas will follow depending on the legal context. Fingers crossed for as many more as possible.
Based partially on true events, 5 Minutes Too Late deals with the aftermath of a violently interrupted projection of an LGBT-themed movie by a homophobic group. When a young man is severely injured by the (allegedly) tardy response from the Gendarmerie, the uncovering of said events bring the officer in charge of the intervention to a breaking point, as well as make a particularly driven journalist follow her lead with zero compromises.
Dan Chișu has never been a subtle filmmaker, and 5 Minutes Too Late is no exception, although it has the best of intentions. Some of the acting and the dialogue is unnatural, and some occurrences are blatantly put in just to serve the plot. And still, the film is entertaining, with a solid, tense tempo and building up to an emotionally wrenching ending. 5 Minutes Too Late is also earnestly, refreshingly direct in its condemnation of homophobia and the troubling dealings of a commercial,ratings-driven press, as well as clever enough to know that things are often muddier than we‘d like them to be. The true events at the origin of the film, the homophobic interruptions of two LGBT films at the cinema of the Romanian Peasant Museum (in 2013 during the screening of The Kids Are Alright and in 2018 during the screening of 120 Beats per Minute) are shameful, as were the reactions on the part of official institutions, so any critical tackling of the matter is more than welcome.
Alexander Nanau‘s excellent documentary follows the journalists at Gazeta Sporturilor who uncovered a horrific health scandal after the tragic fire at Colectiv club in Bucharest in October 2015, which caused a change of government after massive public outrage. Many of the victims died after being infected in hospitals with ultra-resistant bacteria, leading to the explosive find that the company Hexi Pharma had been selling diluted disinfectants to Romanian hospitals for years, which also explains the general fear in Romania of being hospitalized for the most casual of interventions. The subsequent struggle to change the system by then newly appointed Minister of Health Vlad Voiculescu and his team are the focus of the film’s second part. Collective is hard-hitting and infuriating. It is also a terrific, thrilling watch, in the best tradition of investigative journalism movies. A rare thing, it is both controlled and emotionally restrained although a clearly scathing look at the state of things, and mature enough to understand how moral and ethical decisions are made in a faulty system, while clearly condemning what is unequivocally wrong. This is essential viewing, if you have the stomach for it, because it rings more than true for the current health crisis with which we are dealing.
By Ioana Moldovan, columnist, email@example.com
(Photo source: Collective on cinemagia.ro)