Why should you watch a Romanian film?

Because you just should, but besides that obvious reason, because it’s honest, and to be fair, honesty is a hard to find virtue nowadays. From national deceits to petty lies we are in a constant negotiation with truths and their less horrifying, more flattering versions. But, even so, Romanian films do not criticize, they don’t blame, or judge, they reveal.

You need to watch a Romanian contemporary film because even Dorian Gray looked sometimes at his portrait, and we cannot hide forever from the “dark side” of our society. Because it’s not the film, as a mechanism of telling a story in moving pictures, that you don’t like, it is the film as a mirror.

The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005

You should watch a Romanian contemporary film because it’s not easy to watch, because they are not happy films, with happy stories of happy people surrounded by happy objects. Because it is not your Sunday film, but there are Sundays for different films too.

There is no beauty in a Romanian film, except for the beauty of daily life (if any). Don’t look for it. There’s no poetry, other than that of reality, of greys and small apartments, of holes in the road and disforest mountains, of innocent criminals and guilty victims. There’s no romanticism, except for an “Asphalt Tango”. There’s a Mister Lazarescu or an aborted 80’s fetus in the memory of too many families. But when we watch a film, we are outraged, that’s not us! Ok. But who is it, if not us? So, you should watch a Romanian film because you need to see exactly what you don’t want to see. And if you’re a foreigner, because it’s an interesting experience, and maybe you’ll discover that films about humans are not so local after all, even when Marilena in the film is from P7 and the talk show in 12:08 East Bucharest is set in Vaslui.

They are not art films, those metaphorical, metaphysical, and other meta-s, psychoanalytical, psychological, and other psy-s, they’re not self-reflective, and other self-s, thus you don’t really need to be an ill lucked philosopher, a pseudo intellectual, or a hipster to get them, you just need to have eyes, and if you’re reading this, you certainly do.

12:08 East of Bucharest, Corneliu Porumboiu, 2006

They’re simple, brutal and direct.

You should watch a Romanian film because they do not warm your soul, they don’t even try. But because they poke it. Because they might not linger in your heart, but they might just get stuck in your mind.

Because the final dialogue between the two mothers in the Child’s Pose is one of the most tragic and heart wrecking scenes I have ever seen in a film, and you might want to know why. Because there is a light in 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, that shines through the Communist nightmare and you might want to discover what I’m talking about.

Because they have been awarded at Cannes and other prestigious film festivals, and no, that didn’t happen by accident, or because of pity as some anonymous Romanian commentator wrote in a review on IMDB because there is no pity for bad films.

You should watch a Romanian film because they are “as artistic, as they are rough, they’re sinuous and edgy, they’re exuberant and humble”, as someone described them in the public’s interview. Because there’s a quiet tragedy in humour, and there’s always at least a grain of dark humour in tragedy. Because there’s something so Romanian in each and every one of them, so this might be your chance to find out something about us, Romanians, which cannot be read on Google, and there’s something so human, which you might find strangely familiar.

Aferim!, Radu Jude, 2015

Because you don’t want to be a “Hollywood product” who thinks that only America’s good at making films. That film means only entertainment, violence, sex, and special effects because you’re better than that. Because it’s not fair to accuse Romanian film of its similitude to Nouvelle Vague’s or Italian Neo Realism’s films while complaining that they don’t look more like those blockbusters that fill the (mall’s) cinema halls. Because if you watch closely enough, you’ll understand that those narratives could only exist visually the way they already do.

You should watch a Romanian film because you’ll find “villains” even worse than Heath Ledger’s Joker, but they’ll never make it to the top ten because they are too mundane, they are too present in our lives. Because there are love stories in these films that you’ll be able to relate more with, than with the ones in Titanic, or The Notebook.

You should see a Romanian film (or 2 or 3 or 10), so you can know what you don’t like and declare that with absolute confidence.

By Maria Mantaluta

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *