The film is less about plot than it is a celebration of Gypsy culture. It tells the story of Stephane (Romain Duris), a handsome young Frenchman who has arrived in Romania to track down an obscure Gypsy singer whose voice on a cassette had entranced his late father. Wandering in the snowy, barren plains, he encounters elderly musician Izidor (Isidor Serban), who appears to recognize the voice on the tape and takes the young man under his wing and introduces him to his Gypsy community.
Stephane is less than warmly received by the suspicious villagers, who consider him a gadjo dilo, or "crazy outsider." Izidor, however, is warmly protective, treating Stephane as a surrogate for his own son, who has been imprisoned. Helping Stephane overcome his sense of cultural dislocation is Sabina (Rona Hartner), a beautiful exotic dancer who speaks French and whose idea of foreplay is uttering the most profane suggestions with wide-eyed enthusiasm. By the film's end, Stephane has come to embrace his new lifestyle with the zeal of a native.
For those less than fascinated by Gypsy culture, "Gadjo Dilo" can be a long haul, filled with sequences that go on far too long and populated by outlandish characters who are as irritating as they are colorful. Filmmaker Gatlif tends to rely on the exoticism of his subject matter to compensate for the large gaps in his narrative and fills much of the running time with extended sequences featuring the passionate rituals of Gypsy music and dance.
The film is beautifully photographed and edited, however, and bears a stamp of authenticity (Gatlif is himself a Roman Gypsy) that lifts it above the usual wide-eyed cinematic portraits of foreign cultures.
Lions Gate Films
Director-screenwriter: Tony Gatlif
Producer: Doru Mitran
Executive producer: Gut Marignane
Cinematographer: Eric Guichard
Editor: Monique Dartonne
Original score: Tony Gatlif
Stephane: Romain Duris
Sabina: Rona Hartner
Izidor: Isidor Serban
Sami: Ovidiu Balan
Dimitru: Dan Astileanu
Running time -- 97 minutes
No MPAA rating