A small world of bourgeois intrigues and frivolities lived with intensity by its own protagonists: Pampon's lover, Didina is in love with the barber Nae, who is Mitza's lover, while she is ...
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A small world of bourgeois intrigues and frivolities lived with intensity by its own protagonists: Pampon's lover, Didina is in love with the barber Nae, who is Mitza's lover, while she is Cracanel's lover. One letter starts the ball rolling and ugly characters start revealing themselves in a burlesque-like fashion. Written by
Although not so well-known as others East European cinemas (Polish or Czech, for instance), the Romanian school managed to produce several high-quality movies. One of them -- some would say the best -- is "Why do they ring the bells, Mitica?".
Inspired by the work of the Romanian play-writer I.L. Caragiale, a bitter-funny witness of the 20th turn-of-the-century Romanian burgeois mores, the movie manages to grasp the cheap, frantic, colourful and slightly hysteric atmosphere of Caragiale's plays.
The movie's director, Lucian Pintilie, is one of the few success stories of the Romanian cinema. He turns the classical, linear plot of the play into a zigzagged scenario, combining it with several other Caragiale's short-stories. The result is a weird combination of crazy carnival scenes and short, alienated insertions reminding of Antognioni's "Red Dessert". A burlesque, fast-paced, snowball-like comedy (because, after all, *it remains* a comedy) with plenty of post-modernist auto-reflexivity and deep meditative undertones.
In fact, these undertones made the Communist regime to ban the movie during the '80s, considering it as having a strong subversive potential. (This was not the first Pintilie's banned movie in Romania: during the '70s, another one, "Reconstituirea", a satyric critique of the totalitarian Communist regime, was added on the black list of forbidden movies).
But, IMHO, the strongest part of this movie is not the director or the fact that it spoke up against a totalitarian regime. Its best moments reside in the tremendous performances of the actors. Rebengiuc, Dinica, Mihut, Diaconu, Vasilescu -- to name just a few -- give their best acting experience in this movie. It is a pity that they are not so well-known outside the Romanian cultural sphere...
Think of this movie as a Romanian "Firemen's Ball" or a Balkanic "Il Vitelloni", but with a finger stuck on the fast-forward button, and you'll have a good approximation of it. :o)
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