Romanian cinema has always had the theme of "communism" embroidered in it, especially after 1989. There have been a lot of films portraying the cruelties of the regime, its absurdities and all the suffering it caused, but only few - if any - have been of a truly high standard. Pintilie's work is often authentically exciting, because he usually offers a more objective, although still sentimental, point of view in his movies. However, there is still room to grow.
The film is a narrative challenge for the director, as he tries to persuade the viewer to accept a sympathetic position when referring to the main character. We embark on a journey outside the normal time flow and, yet, constrained within its miserable boundaries. A reporter tries to bury into the depths of the past, hoping to uncover the great mysteries which, sometimes, are better left untouched. She represents the obvious society of the urbane swamp, where life is such a vague term that it turns into a simple concept, rather than authentic experiences. Her connection with Franz Tandra (the sinister bloke who confesses his sins and pains) is an old professor who plays a rather lackluster part in the proceedings. The leading role is taken apart by Gheorghe Dinica, one of the better Romanian actors, who has played very diverse parts in his career, adding, in this case, a man who lives and breathes only on the path his destiny has forsaken him to.
The torturer seems to have lost his humanity long ago, but maybe it is not he who has lost it, but others who have taken it away from him. Life is a mess and when you have to bare it continuously, it's very likely to succumb. So he confesses to have liked it, the torturing, but can he truly be blamed for this? More than definitely, a thing Franz Tandra also agrees to. However, he has paid for his sins more than enough; he has paid with his life.
Life and the illusion of it come together in a meaningful way, giving reasons and explanations. The movie itself is a critical run on all those who have yet to accept their guilt, for what they have done. That is because none of them have the mental and spiritual ability to do so. And in order to have that, there is only one voice of reason to guide you: faith.
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