Three Romanian Movies

in 29th Warsaw Film Festival

by Dejan Trajkoski

The Japanese Dog (Câinele Japonez) by Tudor Cristian Jurgiu, Little Spartan (Micul Spartan) by Dragos-Bogdan Iuga and Love Building by Iulia Rugina are the three movies by Romanian directors screened as part of the Fipresci selection at the Warsaw Film Festival.

The Japanese Dog is an intelligently developed, unpretentious movie with exceptional sound design and cinematography. Simply put, its scenario solutions are as interesting as its visual and audio solutions, demonstrating wise directing.

Nature sounds dominate compared to the visualization of the village where the action is set. The village is almost non-present, just audible, and it is successfully presented through the characters. The cooperation between the cinematographer and the director is highly noticeable. The first close-up comes thirty minutes into the movie, where it justifiably highlights the leading character’s emotion for the first time. Apart from the dominant long shots, there are scenes with remarkable lighting, using non-conventional solutions such as car headlights to illuminate the characters. The Japanese Dog is a warm, artistic movie that successfully depicts the lack of communication among people, and how it is reflected in real life. Yet the storyline is not tied up effectively, and the ending is flat and predictable.

Little Spartan by Dragos-Bogdan Iuga is a kind of experimental movie, showing ten years in the life of Gabriel Dita, an individual facing a growth problem, in a documentary manner. It is a true story where the midget Gabriel gets rich by using other people, but we see scenes where he is also being used. In this sense, the scenario of Little Spartan is multilayered and poses = a number of ethical dilemmas.The story in this mocumentary is developed through a combination of several media: mobile phone shots, amateur video, as well as footage in fiction-film style, black and white shots, etc. It is all compactly edited, thus modeling an entire story that skillfully captures the life and the problems of Gabriel. The film’s multilayered concept is also present in the stereotypes, complexes, frustrations and, at times, the weird way that European societies function: such is Romanian post-transition society. The film takes a noteworthy approach to colour, golden yellow being the dominant one in scenes presenting Gabriel’s childhood, stressing the emotion of another time.

Love Building, again, uses an unconventional manner of shooting, in parts even resembling reality show style. Thus, the director wisely mocks the new reality show culture, here related to psychological revelation. Moreover, the storyline successfully depicts the estrangement of people, relationship problems and the (im)possibility of everlasting perfect love. The movie abounds in characters, but consequently some of them are not fully developed. At points, the events are predictable, and just as in The Japanese Dog, the story is not brought to a satisfying conclusion.

Edited by Alison Frank