Romanian film review – The drugs don’t work: Rocker

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Marian Crișan made one of the most lovable Romanian films in recent history, the 2010 comedy Morgen, a big-hearted tale of friendship set at the Romanian-Hungarian border. His latest film Rocker has just had its premiere on Friday and has since been running in cinemas across the country. It will probably come as quite a surprise to his fans though, and it has surely bewildered yours truly.

Rocker (one has to admire Crișan’s gift for universally understandable titles in need of little translation) is a film so different in subject, tone, and look from its predecessor that it leaves its audience both unsettled and in awe. Dealing with drug abuse, misplaced parental love, and immaturity in all generations, it could not be bleaker.

Victor is the ‘Rocker’ with capital R, a widower living with his twenty-something rebellious son Florin (aka Dinte – Tooth) in a claustrophobic flat in a depressing area of Oradea. Father and son are united by a common passion for rock music and particularly, in Dinte’s case, of punk. Unfortunately this also seems to be their only connection. The two men live in a masochistic unity where Victor would do anything to help his drug-addicted son, taking matters as far as to buy him the heroin himself. And things could not get any worse from here…

Crișan does well to tackle such issues in a serious manner and a further compliment goes to his choice of placing the film somewhere else than in Bucharest as well as to feature classic and contemporary Romanian rock and punk music. Despite these qualities and the impressive talent attached to it (the cast is good, especially Dan Chiorean as the torn Victor, and so are the technical aspects), Rocker is one uncomfortable watch, and this not only due to its subject matter. Somehow very little is revealed of what might have brought these two characters to this decaying state, makes it hard to empathise with them or understand their extreme actions.

The grim story is almost never relieved by lightness or humour, making it a heartbreaker from start to finish. And what surprises most is that the film lacks the freshness and vitality of Crișans’s debut, which is curious for a picture with such volcanic themes and music. However, this is an earnest and intelligent film and it deserves a large audience. It will probably not charm international viewers as Morgen did, but compliments to the director for his versatility and with this chameleonic ability I couldn’t be more curious about Mr Crișan’s next project.

Check out the film’s venues and running schedule at Cinemagia.ro. 

And here’s the ‘loud’ trailer:

By Ioana Moldovan, columnist, [email protected]