Cristi Puiu, best known for his powerful depiction of one man’s devastating fall in The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu, made a stirring one on familial dysfunction with Sieranevada. And, what made it even more arresting was the way it captured a host of subjects that were both seeped in Romania’s complex contemporary history, as well as the happenings of the world around – the tussle between religious dogmas and atheism, individualism vis-à-vis the collective, the guilt of infidelity and the scandal of addiction within a conservative social construct, a world irrevocably altered by 9/11, the violent attack on Charlie Hebdo, and more. The scene is a gathering of Lary (Mimi Branescu), a seemingly sanguine doctor, his jittery wife, and extended family members on his side to commemorate his deceased father. And, Puiu made use of this occasion for a compelling study on complicated human dynamics – along with suppressed differences, bitternesses, resentments, sociopolitical disilussionments – laced with cynical and even caustic humour. The movie’s most astonishing and virtuoso feat perhaps lay in how nearly the entire thing was seamlessly filmed within a cramped apartment, made even more congested with the horde of fidgety and rarely static characters continually changing positions and interacting across groups, and that too using long single takes (despite the immense spatial and logistical constraints). Further, it was marvelously shot and sequenced in near real time and in hyper-realism, with the camera – and in turn the viewers too – placed right in the middle of the family clearly on edge and ready to implode. The brilliantly rambling and conversational script, along with the intensely naturalistic turns by the cast, made this an offbeat, wryly ironic, simmering and immersive viewing experience.
Director: Cristi Puiu
Genre: Drama/Black Comedy/Family Drama