Romanian film review – Three stories for the holidays

It’s that time of the year again and I hope it’s as happy and harmonious as possible. If you do feel like having a break from eating and family visits, however, you could watch any or all of the short films below for amusement, distraction, practical advice or simply to be grateful if your Christmas does not resemble some of these scenarios.

Let’s start off with a classic, one of Toma Caragiu’s funniest sketches, O, brad frumos. Caragiu is one of my favourite comedians and I am happy for every chance to feature his work. His deadpan delivery and comic timing are flawless and they are particularly impressive in a series of comic episodes that were aired on Romanian television in the 1970s. The one about the ideal set-up of the Christmas tree in a (then) contemporary designed apartment is hilarious, highly quotable, and inspirational indeed.

For something more contemporary, have a look at Captivi de Crăciun/Stuck on Christmas (2010), a story of four people stuck in a provincial train station when their train to Bucharest gets delayed. It may not be the most original film about a group of people stuck somewhere but it has its fair share of funny moments. Anyone who got stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for their train to arrive or at least for some details about the delay will cringe and empathise.

O faptă bună/A Random Act of Kindness (2015) is a completely different story where the jokes are more subtle and more biting for that. With the saying in mind that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’, director Andrei Gruzsniczki sends his middle-class Bucharest to do some shopping on Christmas eve. When they see a stray dog who had been hit by a car, they decide to rescue it. It’s Christmas after all and one should be particularly kind. But when they take it to a vet, things start to spiral out of control.

Happy holidays, dear Romania insiders, and may they bring the perfect tree, punctual means of transportation, no (relationship) drama, and happy, healthy pets.

A Random Act of Kindness is streaming on HBO GO, the station’s video-on-demand platform. You can watch it here if you have an account.

by Ioana Moldovan, columnist