Wednesday, March 29, 2006 9:29:32 PM
Director: Nae Caranfil
Cast: Mircea Diaconu, Mara Nicolescu, Gheorghe Dinica, Viorica Voda
Country: Romania / France
Runtime: 110 min.
Plot (spoiler alert ):
Ovidiu is a teacher and failed writer who falls in love with the sister of one of his students. In order to impress her he gets involved with the Filantropica Society, run be Pepe, whose “business” is basically scamming people, mainly using beggars. Ovidiu is an exception, and so his plan is more elaborated.
He pretends to be married to Miruna, Pepe’s assistant. They go to restaurants and, at the end, they start complaining about the price, saying they cannot pay that much. When they begin talking about their 10th anniversary, people start feeling sorry and eventually pay them the bill. With the waiter also part of the scam and a price much higher than it should, there’s money to be wasted.
With his pocket full, Ovidiu starts pretending to be someone he’s not, in order to impress Diana. One day, she finally finds out, breaking up with him. He doesn’t give up, though, and continues his scams.
One day, he sees a chance to win her back: her brother seems money desperately. He gives her the money, expecting to win her back. Everything seems fine when she plans a date for that night.
Nevertheless, she isn’t there when he shows up. The only person he encounters is his student. Funny enough, he doesn’t have a sister...
But happy endings still sell, and so Ovidiu manages to keep the girl he's been fictitiously married to.
I haven’t seen many Romanian movies, but this one actually made me want to see some more.
The plot itself is probably the best part of the movie. I’m not totally familiar with the Romanian lifestyle and life conditions, but this movie clearly has a social analysis, even a satire, which could also apply in many other places. Still, this is a light comedy, and the satire part is too shallow, and not really explored, which is a pity. The only point which got some focus was the organized begging, which is probably the most “publicized” problem of Romania nowadays. As I said, I don’t how much of that is true, so I’m afraid that didn’t work really well with me. But of course, I might be wrong, and Romanian viewers might see many things I didn’t see or understand.
Although predictable at moments – the ending, for example – it’s still a quite enjoyable movie, and its nearly 2 hours pass fairly quick.
The actors were virtually unknown to me, but most of them have done a good job, especially Mircea Diaconu. The director, Nae Caranfil, is not very well known outside Romania, but he already made some other less known, but also good movies (Asphalt Tango, Don't Lean Out the Window). This one is probably his greatest achievement, if not in directing, at least in writing. Very well filmed and edited, this movie is, in that aspect, a pleasant surprise. With this being a co-production between Romania and France, I’m a bit curious to know what part France had in this...