21 July 2012 | davidlitterman
A Romanian's Review
As a Romanian living in Romania, I was intrigued by this film's title. Then I read the synopsis and said to myself "Well, I won't be expecting to see anything good about my country in this flick".
However, I was surprised to see that the film's writers, while far from glorifying Romania or even showing much sympathy for it, went rather easy on my country in the end. Apart from using some stereotypes that I would feel like a hypocrite if I dismissed (feral dogs, corruptible police force, influential – and charismatic – mobsters, an overall disregard for work safety or the common confusion between Bucharest, Romania and Budapest, Hungary), they didn't go to great lengths to mock Romania. So I would say that the film's depiction of my country is not flattering, but it's not insulting either.
Now, of course, this film is NOT about Romania. In fact, the title "Made in Romania" should be read as "Made in ANY Second-World Country where It's Cheap to Shoot Movies". And I thought the film did a pretty good job living up to this premise.
"Made in Romania" is a light-hearted, mockumentary-style, low-budget film that doesn't take itself too seriously and doesn't force itself to turn every scene into a laughable moment. Some viewers may find parts of it too "boring" for a comedy and too "shady" for a drama. But I, for one, found the dosage just fine and felt really entertained by the film.
Make no mistake: this film was clearly intended to be an anti-Hollywood satire. But it's not a parody. I mean, most of what happens on screen might have happened – and will probably always happen – in real life. It's bittersweet, not just bitter.
The characters are pretty well built. We have an unscrupulous financier, a young producer who would rather be in a creative job, a benign star (Jennifer Tilly as herself), a mentally unstable director, an alcoholic cinematographer... Watching all these personalities clash on set, one couldn't help but wonder: how is it possible for ANY film to EVER get made?
Yet films do get made. Like Geoffery Rush's character in "Shakespeare in Love" puts it, "Strangely enough, it all turns out well. (...) I don't know. It's a mystery".
"Made in Romania" is not showing us anything we haven't seen – Christopher Guest has been making such mockumentaries for 30 years now ("This Is Spinal Tap", "For Your Consideration", to name just two of my favourites). And he certainly isn't the only one. But this film does bring something new to the table of faux documentaries about the world of showbiz: the "exotic" location (Eastern Europe).
Bottom line: if you're a Christopher Guest fan, if you like to go behind the scene of a film production and/or if you're a cynical little bugger who enjoys works that mock Hollywood, "Made in Romania" is the film for you! (You get a bonus if you're actually living in Romania.)