Terminus paradis (1998)
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'Mitu' looks like a great iconic performance—assuredly, confidently played, with brio and violence.
Visu is good in this movie, exceedingly good, in an interesting role.
Rebengiuc has a nice cameo; as a matter of fact, there's more of Pintilie's stock: Mrs. Bloos, Vasilescu, of course Mrs. Chiriac. Vasilescu does a sensational supporting part as a viciously bad officer.
<the spoiler starts here >
The main character, young Mitu, falls in love with the equally young waitress Norica. Suffering deeply after sacrificing, for the sake of his father's career, his adolescence dream of immigrating to USA, Mitu seems to have found again a direction to go and a possible way out from his desolate life. But to Mitu's dismay, Norica declines his proposal, pointing out that they won't be able to support themselves. Moreover, she thinks that her only sensible chance is to marry her employer, the old, sleazy owner of a run-down grill shack at the outskirts of the city.
Further building up the pressure is the brief encounter between Mitu and his brother, now a USA citizen wannabe visiting Romania. Although sent to USA by their unfair father, his brother ended up a failed dishes/toilets washer in a restaurant, and finding this out only adds to the grudge Mitu holds against his family. The family he soon breaks all the ties with, just after being drafted to serve in a tanks unit.
Perhaps the only bright character in the movie is to be found in this unlikely environment, in the person of col. Vatasescu, the tanks unit commander, a man who will constantly struggle to divert Mitu from his self-destructive path. Thus trying to ease up his own guilt of not being able to stop an AWOL soldier from his unit being gunned down in cold blood by the anti-terrorist forces. Anyway, from the moment Mitu becomes a soldier things unravel fast, in a destructive downward spiral pulling him to his doom, despite the colonel's efforts. A lieutenant considering him as a "problem soldier" and constantly humiliating him; Norica's wish to marry her boss for money; the theft of a tank and destruction of the grill shack, hoping to hinder Norica's marriage; the humiliations in the disciplinary regiment he's sentenced to serve into for stealing the tank; Norica's fixation to marry her boss; the theft of a weapon and the get away from the prison; the gunning down of Norica's boss; the elope of Mitu and Norica; the married couple's attempt to avoid capture by the authorities; Mitu's decision to save Norica and face his fate alone. But in the end, the anti-terrorist forces shoot Mitu and the colonel, during the colonel's last effort to save the young man's life.
It's a world in which Mitu strives for a better life and wishes to detach himself from the dependency on his family, especially his father's relations. After falling in love with Norica, a girl who seems to get him, he sets on marrying her and fleeing to America, where they shall meet Paradise.
Set on doing things his way, Mitu disobeys his superiors several times without caring for the repercussions. All he knows is that he wants Norica and he wants to reach America's shores. He is envious of his brother Nicu, whom their father has helped get away from the hardships found in Romania. But Nicu's life in America is not the wonderland that Mitu imagines it to be, as he has to eat from celebrities' trash bins and sleep on the streets. And I like how matters are not as black-and-white as Mitu believes them to be.
I thought that most of the performances were really great, with the exceptions with a few ones which I found to be questionable. Many of the shots of the landscape have a dream-like quality to them and made me think that in spite of the fact that people are just like pigs (as Mitu puts it), perhaps, just perhaps, Paradise may not be across the ocean in the America, but right there, in your own land.