Saturday 29 February 2020

The Treasure [2015]

Corneliu Porumboiu has a sly genius for mixing droll hyperrealism with dry-to-bones irony, matter of factness with meandering conversations, and banality with a touch of the absurd. He’d memorably exhibited these facets in the bristlingly brilliant 12:08 East of Bucharest and the deadpan Police, Adjective, and these were in fine display in his dour, rigorous and exquisitely low-key The Treasure. This impish antithesis to the adventure genre despite its deliberately unsubtle title and seemingly thrilling premise, viz. two middle-aged men going on a mini-odyssey to unearth precious valuables, made for a potent commentary on post-Communist Romania, with its neoliberal economy, financial woes cloaking the allure of being better off, and institutional corruption. Costi (Cuzin Toma), in a drab job and struggling to manage his loans, lives a rather humdrum life with his family. Hence, when Adrian (Adrian Purcărescu), a broke neighbor in the same apartment block, approaches him for financial support to hire the services of a professional metal detector to help find the titular treasure – which his grandfather had apparently buried to prevent them from being seized during the anti-aristocracy purge – in exchange for a share in the pie, he hesitantly decides to help despite his doubts. The routine preparation and the dreary endeavor over a weekend – especially the brewing hostility between between an increasingly testy Adrian and the weary Cornel (Corneliu Cozmei), who decided to help bypassing his boss – made for a darkly hilarious watch, leading to a rather unexpected payout. Interestingly, the real-life Purcărescu had actually told Porumboiu about a potential buried treasure from his ancestral past, and therein lay, initially, the idea for a documentary, and that eventually became the genesis for this deadpan gem.

Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Black Comedy
Language: Romanian
Country: Romania

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