'Crucea de piatra' - The Stone Cross was a low class brothels area that became some kind of an institution in the landscape of Bucharest before the Communist period. It is mentioned in a number of novels and stories of well known Romanian writers, all who were fascinated by the mix of vice and attraction, by the colorful and tragic destinies that populated the area.
Andrei Blaier's film catches the last days of the Stone Cross, doomed to destruction under the new rules of proletarian morals that the Communists were trying to impose. The idea could be the start of a great film, with the prostitution being seen not so much from its destructive and exploitation perspective, but rather as a form of freedom in a time when the whole society was falling under the rule of propaganda, hypocrisy, and repression. In a world due to fall under tyranny for the coming decades prostitution becomes a metaphor of the old more free way of life.
Unfortunately the film does not raise at the height of this great leading idea. The whole disappearing world is being constructed more as a collection of stereotype characters rather than of real people. We get on screen the stereotypes of the good whore, of the corrupt party activist, of the Russian officer, of the young and naive poet, of the malicious secret agent, etc. and not the real people that happen to have this role in life. The set of tools used by the script writer and the director prefers the thick farce palette, emotions are at soap opera level and this film which is a direct critic of the Communist regime and its taking over of the country seems to be realized exactly with the simplistic and schematic weapons of the propaganda, just pointed in the reverse direction. The presence of some superb Romanian actors cannot save the day, as the characters they are playing are as stoned in stereotype as the cross that named the vice district. The history of 'Crucea de Piatra' and its people deserve a better film that hopefully will be made sometime.
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