User ReviewsReview this title
I've spent a lot of time in Romania over the last few years, and have wanted to tell people I know here in the UK about what it's really like over there - Filantropica gives me a chance to make what I say come to life. The portrayal of the rich, useless 'students', in particular, was so close to reality I just couldn't stop laughing.
....and the dogs at the beginning and the end are just, well, perfect!
This is for those who don't know how the director looks like: Nae Caranfil has a cameo as a Karaoke singer. Does the foreign audience applaud when there is a good scene or when the director appears in a cameo, like they did here?
What else? The Romanian film critics had designated "Filantropica" as representative for our country in Best Foreign Picture pre-nominations for the Academy Awards. Unfortunately, they didn't know much about publicity and didn't even come up with all the necessary data for the sites & all, but this does not diminish the film's value and the excuse may be that the event was a first time ever.
Filantropica is a film about the fate of a professor who falls in love with a rather "sophisticated" lady, who just costs too much. But because love knows no limits, our professor is prepared to do anything in order to fulfill his yearning. And, as all know, the easiest way to conquer a shallow heart is by being a financially affluent person. Most unfortunately, the professor isn't in such a position and he searches desperately for a solution. The solution, as unexpected as it may be, is, of course, business related. A bit unconventional, maybe. That is, if you consider "organized" begging an unconventional business.
OK, so it's fun and it criticizes some very disturbing facts of the lower social classes and, in the meantime, it details the rather dark career of a beggar. Yeah, I know, I never thought someone could make money out of beginning through such an organized and well planed scheme, but it seems it pays off. Now the sad thing is, it's mostly true and it's impossible to control in the current conditions (moral ambiguity). But in Filantropica, it is - and this is of great relevance - another matter of life. It's part of something bigger and more important, it follows an ideal, morally shabby, but conceptually good. The context (aka the story, the characters) make it real. And that's what good films are (sometimes) about.
The acting of the main characters was superb, even the extras did their job well; the script contains a too complex and interesting story to be told here, all I can say is that it's a great tale; the music gives a Romanian feel to the movie and nicely selected for this particular idea; the directing has to be good, since almost none of the actors slipped, none of the scenes made me say "Cut" :) and the movie carried me from the first scene to the last with no discrepancies.
This movie may have turned my pessimistic view of Romanian film-making around, along with "Asfalt Tango", which is a movie of the same caliber and quality (with the same great main actor ) and I am looking forward to good, watchable movies like these two, with great and original stories.
'Filantropica' presents a point of view which may be unknown or hard to catch for many non-Romanian viewers. The Romanian literature and theater has a great satiric tradition, and the founder of absurd comedy theater Eugene Ionesco was of Romanian origin. This is where the villain characters in 'Filantropica' like the one of the master combinator played by Gheorghe DInica come from, although the figure of the little professor of literature dreaming to overcome his miserable condition (through money? through love?) played by Mircea Diaconu is as universal as a Benigni or Woody Allen would have created it.
Some comments consider 'Filantropica' as the best film of the Romanian cinema. I believe that this is an exaggeration, there are certain flaws especially the extended and un-justified use of off-screen voice in the first part of the movie. 'Moartea Domnului Lazarescu' of Cristi Puiu, another movie inspired by the reality of the same period is a better film, with somehow a more optimistic message. Yet this is an important film about this complex period in the history of Romania.
Nevertheless, Filantropica is an enjoyable Romanian offering and you won't regret having seen it. Just don't expect something of a 8.7 caliber.
This morning I was shocked to find Filantropica to be the 12th best movie ever voted in IMDb's comedy section. After reading the posts though (and, more important, their sources), I have come to realize that it's not the billions of moviegoers that fell in love with this (really) outdated film, but a handful of over-zealous Romanians who just felt this movie (and I will agree with them - it's one of our collapsed "movie industry"'s bests) should make it to the top just because we SHOULD have a notable presence in these ranks. I mean, come on! This website is not about being Romanian, or American, or Australian - this is the best resource for finding out if a movie's good or bad! This is how we, Romanians, lose all credibility - we're soooo biased that next time no one is gonna take our word for granted.
The movie? Filantropica is OK, really. It's got its share of clichés, some of which might not be too noticeable for a person not knowing a lot about Romania, but it's enjoyable enough. The characters are quite crude, often lacking dimension, but remember, this is a satire. I didn't see a dubbed or subtitled version of the movie, so I cannot tell you how much is "lost in translation".
To sum it up: yes, this is one of the best Romanian movies, but this should not be enough to propel it into Top 250. See it for yourselves and decide. If you have problems finding it, just PM me - I'll be happy to help you out!
OK, "Filantropica" is, overall, an enjoyable movie. It is a bitter satire on one of the greatest (or most publicized) maladies of post-Communist Romania - organized begging. The central concept of "Filantropica" is quite clever, and the movie can be very funny, but in the end I could not empathize with it. Perhaps that's because so much of what "Filantropica" laughs at I've already seen, and got somewhat tired of, in Polish popular cinema of the 1990s - the ridiculous fat mafiosi hanging out with brainless bimbos taken in by their red sports cars (as in "Kiler" - a very enjoyable movie - among others), the neurotic high school teacher whose paycheck is a slap in the face and who can't stay on top of his rowdy students and escapes into a world of erotic fantasy (as in "The Day of the Freak"). These topics are somewhat spent in Polish cinema, and it was a bit surprising to me that a movie on this topic and made in this hyperbolic comedy convention was still seen as a big bang in Romania in 2002.
My main problem with "Filantropica" is that the characters are drawn with too crude a line for my taste. This makes the movie increasingly irritating towards the end. The cynical boss of the begging business actually becomes somewhat painful to watch after a while. So if "Filantropica" is meant as a piece of social commentary on contemporary Romania, it is inadequate for reason of that very crudeness; if it's to be (as the director claimed at a meeting I attended) a universal tale about the power and abuse of charity, then again it is too shallow to do any justice to the topic. It succeeds as a comedy with an Eastern-European flavor, and is worth watching for that reason.
I am still looking for a really good Romanian movie to watch - either a more subtle comedy, or (even better) a drama that is psychologically careful and believable and that will tell me about life in Romania, or about about a problem of universal relevance. Any suggestions?
There is hidden beauty in it and that is revealed based on your state of mind. A scene can make you cry sometimes. The same can make you laugh a day latter. Or it can make feel ashamed. Or it can make you feel proud. Or infuriated. Depending on what your soul need, this movie gives you.
Of course, some of the dialogs are meaningless for those who didn't grew up with the songs, words and attitude in the movie. But it doesn't matter if this movie took the Oscar or not because it took the "Oscar" of my heart.
I really recommend it 100% !
Using stray dogs as metaphorical bookends the film purports to send up greed, education, governments and a host of social ills using charitable scamming as its glue. Unfortunately, in today's climate of real stories of charities making front page news through scandal or mismanagement the plot's major joke (fake married couple on the 10th anniversary in expensive restaurant, have no cash, big scene with on-the-take-waiter, do-gooder patrons pay off the inflated bill) seems more of a documentary than fiction, thus killing the satire.
But the hero as failed writer provides a much better vehicle for black humour that sets up the funniest moments: the railway poet who recites for vodka, only to reveal that he has just two poems and neither of them are his; and wonderfully believable Philanthropy Foundation where writing the lines the for percentage-based fund-beggars on the cash-only payroll brings in a steady flow of charitable donations. Their motto is bang on: "An outstretched hand with no story to tell doesn't work."
And so its savvy chairman (Gheorghe Dinica) writes the scripts that include a violinist (who's never played a note but has been coached on how to hold the instrument) that has given up playing in his despair (best to beg near government culture institutions) and climaxes with the beating literature teacher by day Ovidu (played with charming naivety by Florin Calinescu) which leads to a television appearance where a special account is set up for the public to contribute to this unfortunate couple whose only crime was to try and have one night out for their anniversary. Even the sub-plot of the literature teacher trying to seduce one of his most belligerent student's sister is filled with false fronts shallowness. But, it forces him to agree to the scamming so as to have the cash to artificially improve his lifestyle and attempt to bed her when, inevitably, his deception is revealed just on the point on entry. But like the too-forgiving Philip in Of Human Bondage Ovidu keeps going back for more, finally stealing from the foundation to pay the debts of his wayward student only to discover he's given the dough to the sister that wasn't (quelle suprise!). Oh well, at least he gets to keep the girl he's been fictitiously married to for the past decade, forever proving that lies can be lived into reality!
Still, the film does provoke thought and is blessed with a knowing camera and a gypsy-esque score composed and performed by Marius Mihalache that adds much to the pace.
But at our screening when the film broke-just fifteen minutes from the end-there were not a few of us who could have left then and there with enough of the story resolved to our satisfaction. However, being charitable, we dutifully stayed until the last ask was made.
The story-line and truly the whole directing work are a miracle, giving a very well built movie, with very subtle irony, smart detailing, making it a must-see.
The action takes place in a contemporary Bucharest (the movie was actually filmed in 1998-1999 or so, but its international release was delayed for some reason) and presents a harsh reality for the working intellectual in this country - love costs more than one can afford from one salary. Don't worry about understanding the changing rate from the leu-dollar (his salary was worth somewhere under 80$, 1 million lei valuing about 30-50 $ at that time, i can't remember). The message is very powerful and it will certainly leave some question marks about integrity and correctness, while showing a totally new way of viewing some of life's little details.
Technically the film is not badly made, it s just that the whole story of the movie is not special good in a way. If it comes and shows on TV, it is not bad to watch it and experience the Romanian way and standard of making films. Perhaps you will feel another way than mine.
The story is an instrument used to explore and reveal some characteristics of this society.