Saturday 11 April 2020

When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism [2013]

Porumboius’s fabulous and curiously titled When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism – laced with extraordinary rigour, bone dry humour, self-reflexive wit and an exquisitely conversational narrative – was close to his Police, Adjective in the way both used seemingly conventional premises for deliberately oblique and wryly philosophic leap-offs. And, it’s droll, self-deprecatory inside peek into film production reminded me of similarly audacious, self-referential, amusing examples as Contempt, Day for Night, 8 ½, The Player, Close-Up, etc. Set over the course of a film’s making, it spent its duration largely focusing on Paul (Bogdan Dumitrache), its self-assured director with a strong formalist idea of cinema, and Alina (Diana Avramut), a supporting actress with whom he’s having an affair. In a brilliantly metatextual opening sequence, he explains to her how shooting on film reels imposes a limitation of 11 minutes for a single take, and how digital will nullify this restriction (albeit, a transition that he isn’t willing to make, as that would necessitate radically altering his auteurist vision); ironically, the scene, shot using a static camera within a moving car, is a single take nearly challenging the above math. There are two other remarkable sequences, noteworthy for their stunning single takes – a scene’s rehearsal in which Paul wants Alina to appear nude (in an impish sequence later, their roles are casually reversed); and a rambling conversation over dinner where he alludes to form shaping content by comparing different cuisines, and is briefly joined by a compatriot who finds a resemblance to Antonioni’s iconic muse Monica Vitti in Alina. The film, astonishingly, comprises of under 20 shots, and that, along with its deadpan, freewheeling, subversive structure, made it really fascinating.

Director: Corneliu Porumbiou
Genre: Drama/Black Comedy/Showbiz Satire
Language: Romanian
Country: Romania

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