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Dana Heinz Perry
Evan Scott Perry,
Dana Heinz Perry,
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One of the most astonishing and engaging cinematic works of the past decade, CHILDREN UNDERGROUND is a profoundly intimate and heart-wrenching drama about homeless children struggling for survival on the streets and in the subways of Bucharest, Romania. Written by
Nightmarish look at the lives of Romanian kids living in a large subway station in Bucharest, most of the kids are runaways from abusive homes or orphans, and most are addicted to huffing a toxic silver paint called aurolac.
The number of homeless children in Romania is very high due to a stupid decision made some years back to ban birth control. Many families in the current free market economy can't take care of the kids, who are shipped off to who-knows-what state-run childcare facility.
The film follows a number of the kids. The stories are heartbreaking. The filmmakers decision to stay passive during filming is troubling. Obviously, they want to capture reality, warts and all, for the viewer. I can respect that. But its nevertheless disturbing to watch the filmmakers passively "watch" a weeping ten-year old girl get viciously beaten by a street gang (in the next scene her nose is broken) or a 12 old boy mutilate himself with a piece of glass. The lack of action smacks of hypocrisy, especially in a film that presents itself as an indictment of apathy.
Trips to several kids' homes reveal worlds more menacing than life living on the streets.
Of all the kids Mikhil seems like he has the most promise. He seems upbeat, with a lot of spunk, and talks about getting an education. Cristina, the eldest and leader of the gang, lords over them in ways that seem militaristic. Macarena, perpetually weeping and high, hands and face smeared with silver paint, seems the most fargone. The bottomless look in her eyes is the most disturbing thing about the film. Ana is alternately responsible and uncontrollable. She dotes on her little brother maternally.
Heartbreaking movie. Children shouldn't have to live like this. Unfortunately, it is not just in Romania, all over the world this problem is widespread. I'm glad this film brings a bit of this to light
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