"California Dreamin' (Endless)": Humanely Political By Rwita Dutta

in 37th Kiev Molodist-International Film Festival

by Rwita Dutta

Cristian Nemescu, the director of California Dreamin’ (Endless), unfortunately died in a tragic accident, while editing the film, at the very young age of 27. It’s unbelievable that one of the most promising young directors of the Romanian New Wave shall always be remembered for his first and last film.

The film is actually inspired by a true episode of the recent past. During the bombing of ex-Yugoslavia, the NATO peace keeping mission was moving towards Kosovo in a train filled with a bunch of U.S. soldiers led by Captain Jones (a great performance by Armand Assante). They happened to pass a small insignificant hamlet of Romania called Capalnita. The local station master Doiaru (Razvan Vasilescu) prevents the train from passing unless the American Army shows the right papers!

The train is thus stranded and we are taken on a stark yet hilarious roller coaster ride for the next two hours. Everyone welcomes the Army officials in the village in their own special way. The Americans make quite a change in their otherwise mundane life. The local mayor grabs this opportunity to be close to the Superpower, while the local workers take the occasion to attract the attention of the foreigners to a proposed strike. The girls of the village, especially the station master’s own daughter, are busy seducing the lonely men of the barracks, thereby making the local guys jealous!

It is amusing to see how a petty station master musters up enough courage to stop the soldiers of the most powerful nation. His childhood flashbacks slowly reveal the saga of his tragic childhood of the 40’s when Romanians waited for the Americans to rescue them and they never arrived. Was it revenge he is looking for? This film, in actuality, is a staunch protest against the American authorities. The Captain often exhibits some of the idiosyncrasies of George Bush.

With its brilliant cinematography and powerful narrative, it is obvious why this mesmerizing film it won the “Un Certain Regard” award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Only the editing probably could have been little better, but the director never had the time to improve it. The film deals with an important recent incident and does it in an amusing manner, avoiding being a typical war film.