8 November 2015 | Raven-1969
The sounds of a serious fight permeate from the floor below, someone is killed and what do you do when both the police and the likely perpetrator knock at your door? In a place like Romania, where distrust of authority runs deep, the question is more complicated. For Sandu, a middle aged man with a happy family, successful vehicle registration business (no tiny feat in Romania) and beloved dog, it is imperative to avoid involvement as well as judgment. Otherwise you may be implicated yourself. The film is a slow burn and we witness Sandu doing his best to maintain control of emotions as the pressure increases on him to reveal what he knows. Vali, the likely perp, becomes all the more suspicious of Sandu the nicer he is and the more he withholds information. As to Sandu's motives, the audience is kept as much in the dark as Vali and our curiosity heightens as much as his own.
Without much dialogue or eye candy, which may have hurt as much as it helped, the film carries surprising depth. The acting is capable. How we like to hear ourselves talk, and Muntean's insightful, thought-provoking and intriguing film captures both the benefits and pitfalls of maintaining silence. It also reveals how much, like the video game world of Sandu's son, we create a fantasy world and live in our little bubbles despite everything that goes on around us. It is a fascinating glimpse into a little slice of Romanian life. Seen at the Toronto International Film Festival 2015. As an aside, I overheard some Canadians talking about how much they enjoyed this film. "It is not like this in American films," said one. Snap! Well, with many, but not all, American films anyway.