Interesting but not good enough to be insightful or fascinating
Ionela is a 17 year old girl whose family owns a small shop in the Romanian village of Glod (which in English is "Mud"). She dreams of more than the godforsaken world of Glod, where she is considered "old" as she is 17 but is yet to marry and nothing ever really happens day-to-day. However this changed when a film crew came to the village making a documentary and there was a lot of excitement. Only later did the villagers discover that they had been had and that the film was to be the Borat movie, with them unwittingly playing the backward idiots of his fictional homeland. This film follows Ionela in the village while her father and grandfather are recruited by lawyers seeking to sue 20th Century Fox for misrepresentation.
A strange beast this film because of how it doesn't really achieve much that it could have done but yet still remains an interesting film despite itself. The film could have done a couple of things. It could have set the record straight by presenting Glod in an honest way whether that makes it look "better" than in Borat or not. It could have followed the lawsuit against the film to see where that went and made a film of that. It could also have told a different story by following the real life within Glod of one person. Instead of doing one of these things it tries to do all three by following Ionela and her family and, while it makes the film feel a bit unfocused and messy, it does still hold the interest.
Personally I would have liked it to have settled on one thing to make the heart of the film and done a really good job on that, but it still works. The image of Glod is depressing everyone lives in poverty, a lot of alcohol is being consumed all the time and it is unmistakably the world I see when I think of rural Eastern Europe. The film builds on this with the focus on Ionela and, in doing so starts to suggest that the film is not really about the Borat movie so much as that being used as a way into the story. This would have been the better film but it doesn't push forward with this idea and it does do as much with this as I would have liked. The introduction of the lawyers adds to the feeling of misery because yet again you get the impression that these people are perhaps being taken for a ride again used to as long as they are useful but then cast to one side. We get to see this happen and we get to see the damage done generally to the people by the ongoing legacy of the film and it does make for generally grim but engaging viewing.
The problem is that I didn't know or care more at the end of the film than I did ten minutes into the film, which is a not really what you want to happen over an hour long film. The makers appear to have good access but by not picking a direction for sure they end up not getting anything brilliant out of their access. So, while this film is interesting, it is far from being insightful or fascinating as it never really decides what the "matter" is, far less get to the heart of it.
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