Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Whatever they’re putting in the water over in Romania, the filmmakers should keep supping. With this affecting debut feature, Florin Serban joins the ranks of the Romanian New Wave, alongside acclaimed directors such as Cristian Mungiu (the Palme d’Or winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days), Cristian Nemescu (California Dreaming) and Corneliu Porumboiu (Police, Adjective).
Adapting Andreea Valean’s stage play, the film is an outwardly simple story that uncovers the emotional depths of 18-year-old Silviu (George Pistereanu) during his final days of a four-year stretch in juvenile detention. Dominant in his domain and on relatively good terms with the warden (Mihai Constantin), Silviu’s controlled existence is rocked when his younger brother visits to inform him that their estranged mother (Clara Vodă) has returned and wants to take him back to live with her in Italy. Silviu now can’t get released fast enough, but when his pleas fall on deaf ears, he fashions a more daring avenue to freedom.
Reminiscent of Andrea Arnold’s superlative Fish Tank, Serban similarly allows the camera to follow Silviu, with long shots and stretches of silence making up most of the first act. Casting real prisoners alongside Pistereanu, Serban also injects an ethnic subplot, with a palpable friction between gypsies (Roma) and Romanians that may pass by unknowing eyes. Pistereanu is a revelation, like a powder keg on a slow burning fuse his performance is powerful, tender and captivating. Indeed both Serban and his star have crafted an inspiring debut.
Published by Street Press Australia