Saturday 8 July 2023

Metronom [2022]

 Iconoclastic RJ, audiophile and jazz aficionado Cornel Chiriac hosted the popular music show Metronom in Radio România between 1967 and 1969, until its cancellation by the authorities, his defection to West Germany, and relaunching the show as part of Radio Free Europe. That eponymous show served as the driving force and motif for this time capsule awash in mood, melancholy and memories. Its director Alexandru Belc was earlier the AD to Romanian New Wave trailblazers Mungiu, Porumboiu and Puiu, and their dry, conversational, faux-realist minimalism and formal exactitude were amply evident here, perhaps indicating a second generation of filmmakers continuing what their predecessors had started. The film is structured as a three-act piece set over 24 hours in 1972. In the low-key first act, the striking and reserved Ana (Mara Bugarin) experiences heartbreak upon learning that her high-school boyfriend Sorin (Serban Lazarovici) is emigrating to West Berlin. The engrossing second act is set in the apartment of Ana’s rebellious friend where their classmates have congregated to secretly listen to their idol Chiriac’s radio programme, drink, dance, and write a letter denouncing Ceaușescu’s totalitarian state; Ana, defying her parents’ instructions, joins the party, hoping for a final fling before Sorin’s departure. Their world, however, comes crashing when they get arrested by the Securitate, with the focus shifting to a tense psychological duel between a menacing senior officer (Vlad Ivanov, in a typically show-stealing turn that he’s made his own) and the defiant Ana. The excellent soundtrack featured the haunting Cu Pleoapa De Argint and pop/rock classics – including a lazily beautiful sequence set to The Doors’ Light My Fire –, while its camerawork comprised of atmospheric palettes and terrific single takes.

Director: Alexandru Belc

Genre: Drama/Romantic Drama/Coming-of-Age

Language: Romanian

Country: Romania

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