Saturday 18 June 2022

Întregalde [2021]

 Radu Muntean’s excellent new film Întregalde had all the quintessential hallmarks of Romanian New Wave – the kind championed by Muntean himself in his memorable Tuesday, After Christmas from a decade back – viz. narrative sparseness, ultra-realism, formal rigour, voluble script, bone-dry humour, lack of non-diagetic sounds, long and unobtrusive single takes, and near real-time filming. He expertly infused these with atmosphere, tenseness and brewing suspense that made it akin to a slow-burn thriller, in striking juxtaposition to the deliberately paced and darkly satirical human drama. The film began with an exquisite mise-en-scène wherein a terrific tracking shot – with a gently roving camera moving through a crowded space – took us amidst the volunteers of a philanthropic social service group, who’re embarking on trips to small villages to distribute essential items to the destitute on the occasion of Christmas. The narrative then zooms in to three of them – Maria (Maria Popistaşu), Ilinca (Ilona Brezoianu) and Dan (Alex Bogdan) – who’re travelling together in an off-roader vehicle to the titular Transylvanian village. On the way they pick up an elderly and possibly senile man called Kante (Luca Sabin) who suggests a short-cut to their destination, and that’s when their lucks take a nose-dive. As things go south in an uninhabited and bitingly cold environ, incommunicado to the outside world, their temper, morality and sense of charity undergo nerve-racking pressure tests. Sabin, an amateur actor and apparently an actual resident of the eponymous village, was extraordinary as the wiry, garrulous and unpredictable man stuck in a time warp – portrayed through audacious single takes where he blabbers endlessly – and served as the fillip to the gripping narrative, and in turn the three edgy, brilliantly enacted volunteers.

Director: Radu Muntean

Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama

Language: Romanian

Country: Romania

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