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Reconstituirea (The Reenactment)

Posted by martinteller on June 28, 2014

Young Romanian students Nicu (Vladimir Gaitin) and Vuica (George Mihaita) were arrested for a drunken pub fight in which a waiter was injured.  Their punishment is to recreate the scene for an educational film warning youths about the perils of alcohol.  Overseeing the project is the procurator (George Constantin), who puts on a show of taking the film very seriously, but seems more interested in idling in the nearby stream.  Also present are a teacher (Emil Botta), who is skeptical about the whole thing, and a policeman (Ernest Maftei), who is quite forceful and enthusiastic about it.  An amused girl (Ileana Popovici) looks on, her bikini catching the eye of everyone involved, especially Nicu.  With one interruption after another, and a demand for realism, they struggle to complete the movie.

This really has nothing to do with this film, but I feel a need to talk about something.  The thing is: I feel like I’ve lost a lot of my enthusiasm for movies.  It’s increasingly rare for me to come away from a movie excited about it, can’t wait to tell folks about it, trying to decide what to take off my top 100 to make room for it.  My most enthusiastic reviews lately have been for rewatches, films that I already had affection for.  The only new (to me) movie I’ve given a score of 90 or above all year has been Remember the Night.  I like to post my top 20 discoveries at the end of the year.  Last year the lowest score on my top 20 discoveries was 87.   So far this year (already halfway done) I’ve only got five that meet that benchmark.  Even lowering the bar to 83 only gives me a top 11.  Maybe just through sheer volume I’ve already discovered most of the films that I’m likely to love… or maybe I’ve become too jaded and critical.

Or maybe I’m just barking up the wrong trees.  I’ve liked a number of Eastern European politically-charged satires, but they’re never my favorites.  This movie — banned in its home country until after the fall of Communism — is a clever critique of the totalitarian system.  The teacher is the conscience of the film, calling into question the effectiveness of the government’s methods.  The efforts to make this film of dubious usefulness are plagued by chaos, incompetence, uncertainty and apathy.  The cacophony of the soundtrack — a malfunctioning car horn, a woman screaming about a car that’s killed one of her squawking geese, an ambulance siren, the loud whirr of the camera — adds a layer of confusion and unease, unwelcome audio intruders at this placid seaside location.  The end result of the government’s “solution” to the problem is, of course, more damaging than the original crime.

The film is said to be one of Romania’s best, and an inspiration for the “Romanian New Wave” of the 21st century.  I prefer these newer films from the likes of Mungiu, Puiu and Porumboiu.  I did enjoy this film, thought it was quite sharp both in its political commentary and in its meta commentary about the deceptive uses of cinema.  It’s pretty funny and the actors are good and it’s put together well.  It just didn’t really grab me in a special way.  Or maybe I’ve become too jaded and critical.  Rating: Good (74)

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3 Responses to “Reconstituirea (The Reenactment)”

  1. mountanto said

    I’d say one should never judge a year in film by the first half of it.

    • Keep in mind I’m not talking about films FROM this year. I’m talking about older films that I saw for the first time this year.

      • mountanto said

        I know, I know, it’s just…sometimes a year takes a while to get going. Perhaps you just need a break? Certainly I feel a bit of burnout at times (especially since I can’t quite break the habit of writing 1000+ words for every movie I review), but some dogged current in my nature pushes me on.

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