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“RMN”, Cristian Munghiu scans our primitive impulses

OFFICIAL SELECTION – IN COMPETITION

Return of Romania, prodigal in talents, in the Cannes competition with Cristian Munghiu, filmmaker who, one must believe, invented a system of magnetization of the prestigious prizes, between the Palme d’or in 2007 (4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days), the Best Screenplay and Best Actress Award in 2012 (Beyond the hills), and the Best Director Award in 2016 (Baccalaureate). For anyone who has seen these titles, Munghiu’s taste for social realism, the frequent inspiration of news items, the ability to transform the document into a moral fable, the “Dardenian” conception of his cinema in a word, makes no mystery . NMR, which is his sixth feature film in twenty years of career, abounds in the matter.

The film, which confronts populist regression and the rise of intolerance in the heart of Europe, is very dark. It starts with a headbutt. Matthias, whose size is somewhat reminiscent of a brown bear, is a worker on a sheep slaughter line in Germany. He gets treated to “dirty gypsy” by a colleague. The blow goes straight, smears the insulter in the broken glass. Matthias slips away, crosses the border, returns to his village in Transylvania, undoubtedly the most multi-ethnic region in Romania, where Romanians, Hungarians, Germans, Roma and a few non-European immigrant workers rub shoulders.

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That said, we are already at the heart of the film. Where we first learn that Matthias is not a gypsy, but that everyone in his village can be considered as such by the neighboring community, in the competition of nationalities that takes place there and in the impoverishment of economy that hits the most disadvantaged sections of the population.

The film thus intertwines two threads to weave its plot. The first concerns Mathias, struggling with his wife’s loss of love, the silence of his young son Radu, who one morning returned mute from the forest, seized by a vision of horror, his elderly father’s illness, as well as the recovery of a passion with a now divorced former lover, Csilla, who has become the manager of an industrial bakery which is the only dynamic business in the village.

Extraordinary twenty-minute sequence shot

The second thread has to do with the racist community inflammation caused by the hiring of three Sri Lankan bakers in the village, as many positions that have not found takers among the locals. Particularly fueled by the community of Magyar origin, with the blessing of the priest, a sudden ebb of the Middle Ages thus jumps in your face, emanating in particular from an extraordinary twenty-minute sequence shot relating the holding of a municipal council on the question.

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