10 October 2010

Tuesday, After Christmas

So, I saw 4 Months, 3 weeks, etc etc, and yes, it was a great movie. I also saw Police, Adjective, and while the premise was interesting, man, it was sloooooow. I haven't seen 12:08 East of Bucharest or Death of Mr Lazarescu, but from what I've heard, they conform to my gradually developing sense of what is typical of Romanian cinema. Ie, slow, gray, and a bit of a downer. So I wasn't exactly rushing to see this at Chicago's International Film Fest, but somehow, my friend and I decided to go, so I attempted to shelve my somewhat snarky attitude about what the movie was likely to involve, and off we went. And wow. I'm so glad we did, because the movie is dynamite. Yes, it is kind of gray, and somewhat gloomy. But despite its emotional intensity, it doesn't feel like a downer. And it's not as relentlessly gray as a lot of Eastern European movies - maybe partly because the characters are upper middle class (which, my friend pointed out, is a nice change). They have macbooks and iphones. And a sporty car.

So, the movie is basically about a guy who is cheating on his wife. Sounds grim, and yes, the movie definitely does an incredible job making you conscious of how painful affairs are, for everyone. At the same time, what's impressive about the movie is that every single character is sympathetic and likeable. Even when they're being somewhat less-likeable - they're flawed, yes, but not in the narcissistic, inconsiderate way that most people mean when they say flawed, but in some kind of normal and not (to me) immoral way. In other words, at no point in the movie do you really blame anyone, nor do you have a clear sense of what should be done, or a notion that someone isn't doing it. The movie is oddly suspenseful, in that you really don't know what will happen next, and you're not really sure what you want to happen either.

As my friend pointed out, the success of the movie is partly dependent on its first scene - right from the opening, you're completely drawn into the world. It's so compelling (though I can't really say why), and that pull never lets up for the entire film, and does some really important work in terms of establishing both the characters' personalities, and they way you respond to them.

Seriously - it's a fantastic movie. Do not miss the chance to see it, should it come up.

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