Filantropica (2002) Poster

(2002)

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8/10
FILANTROPICA (DIDIER BECU)
Didier-Becu11 November 2003
Are you laughing or are you crying? I dunno and this realistic view on today's life in some east European country (Romania) makes you aware that the power is in hands of those who are related to the mob. "Filantropica" tells the story of an ordinary man, a schoolteacher who writes some books in his free time (without success). He earns enough to keep himself alive but from the moment he wants something out of line (sympathy for a gorgeous looking girl) he has just one route : following the route of crime. "Filantropica" shows perfect how the mob is involved in everything, from televisionshows till the beggar on the street and it might be a very hard movie, it's a brilliant masterpiece of today's society. Absolute must!
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10/10
Close to perfect...
spiritualwolf4 March 2006
...and an excellent commentary on the state of society not only in Romania but in the rest of the world. There are some references, small, almost hidden, to the World Bank and the EU, that help you to see the parallels between what's happening to the protagonist on a personal level and what's happening to Romania on a national level.

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!
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10/10
Best Romanian film ever made
Alice_Fluture29 June 2003
I had the exquisite privilege to see the film's premiere and since then I've been to see it five more times. It is the best Romanian film ever made. From the script writing (plot) to acting, costumes, camera movements, editing, everything has so high a quality it acquires international value. The disadvantage of it being so Romanian may diminish a lot of its humor for foreign viewers, but there is something universal about humor that makes the bittersweet truth reach the humanity of each member of the audience rather than their nationality. It is a sour sweet satire of the contemporary Romanian society and underworld of which fiction one begins to doubt as credits start rolling.

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.
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8/10
Love-struck professor in a mad world
tributarystu22 December 2002
Is Filantropica the best Romanian movie? Some may say yes, other may have been less impressed by Caranfil's satire. But no matter how you look at it, you have to agree that Filantropica has something that many Romanian movies lack. It's got a story, a pulse, a damn heart beat. What that means? I suppose it means it's got some likable protagonists as well as debatable villains and its satire goes beyond the social layer and reaches the human one. That's what makes Filantropica so cool: its not just a film that's got something to say, it's a film that's got something to show off with. Finally, a Romanian movie with an earth-bound story, less chat and a bit more of "this and that"!

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.
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8/10
This movie may have turned me into a Romanian movie viewer!
siderite6 June 2005
I am used to Romanian movies being dark, verbally violent, poorly acted, poorly directed, wanting to shock, yet saying nothing. Most of them are like that, but not this one. This was actually a dark comedy with almost no violence. The threads of the story do end in despair, but not in tragedy, giving the viewer that "jigsaw puzzle completed" feeling.

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.
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10/10
the best romanian movie ever
Mickey Knox7 May 2002
This is amazing. A true masterpiece. It is definetely the best romanian movie ever made. A great comedy about richness, poorness, love. Very well written, some scenes will make you laugh with tears, great one liners. And also what can i say about the director, Nae Caranfil? Perfect. It sometimes reminds me of Guy Ritchie. All in all, an amazing movie. If you have the chance to see it, all over the world, do it, it's awesome.
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8/10
black comedy about the 'transition' period
dromasca24 September 2006
In Romania they call it the 'transition' period. Whoever invented this term meant to describe the period between Communist Romania and a normal society, a period where people can recover dignity, learn speaking the truth and trust their human fellows. The issue is that in Romania, as in all other former Communist countries this period was marked by a great amount of dis-illusions, by many broken dreams and destinies as the recovery proved not to be easy neither on the economic not on human plans. The place of human relations was taken by tricks and robbery, the emptiness of the Communist slogans was replaced by the emptiness of the commercial TV, surviving as a human being is tough.

'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.
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10/10
Black Humor Filantropica
melle-smit6 March 2005
Beautiful black humor film, which shows the system in Romania, even still today. The part of teacher Oividiu shows, how even now teachers have to fiddle to enrich their income.The young woman Diana is the personification of Romanian women who love their country and also find ways to add income, but still keep their pride, dignity and identity. They have style and grace. Diana and his wife know how to show this to the viewer.Wonderful acting. The youngsters could be from any place on this earth, they are all the same, react the same,have no identity, therefor it is great to see how Caranfil finds a great way to show the world of nothing to something. He proofs that there is character on both sides. Even the beggars get respect and in a humorous way there is a cooperation. During the film there is a symbiose between the poor and "nouveau rich" who respect and even complement each other.
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8/10
A thoroughly ironical fresque of Romanian society nowadays
flaviu26 April 2002
This movie was highly appreciated, I belive, because of its mere content, meaning that the director Nae Caranfil puts all its talent into it and struggles to evince that Romania is a very complex and intricate country, full of contrasts and paradoxes. Caranfil is eager to make the public appreciate its creation and that can be seen several times throughout the film. iTs satisfaction is all that counts. In Filantropica, he blends comedy in drama in the very specific and contondent way which Romaniands behold as "laugh of worries and trouble". That's why this is an excellent movie. The social and psychological satire couldn't be more obviously conveyed than it is by the main character, a superficial teacher, who drggs his dull life day by day neither with a purpose, nor with a glimpse of satisfaction. But what has satisfaction become nowadays ? Does satisfaction mean money? Must you be ignorant and most of all corrupt to be happy? Under this superficial layer lies the multitude of social convictions and the chaos of a society that struggles to keep, and moreso to gain its real and unhypocrite identity, under a constant flow of foreign However the prospects are grim. Being a satirical comedy, "Filantropica" tries to put in mind of the beholders one question? Have we become so anonyme and unimportant individually that we haven't even realized it and are we constantly manipulated by social cercles beyond our reach and knowledge? We'll never know, will we? All that we can do is "laugh at our own incapacities and faults" of middle or lower class people that we are, as the great Chaplin said. So go and watch Filantropica. I became pretty damp after seeing it, realizing how useless people, specially in the ex-Comunist countries can be. But in order to reach that point of view you must first know the words of a great philosopher: Andre Malraux: "What is the human life? Nothing! But nothing worths more than a human life!". Is this the idea conveyed in "Filantropica"? You will have to judge, so go and see it and then try to answer the previous questions. Although not a great movie, it is very good and maybe it will put a differnt view of Romania to all you westerners(I don't say this disdainfully)who know it only by extreme poverty and degradation. See the film and you will understand a small, but important part of my country 8/10
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10/10
Spechless
halftildead14 July 2005
By saying this is the best Romanian movie I don't really say much about it, because there aren't any good Romanian movies, really (with few exceptions). But I can tell you that this is one of the best movies I have ever seen, and I have seen many. Not only it makes you laugh, but it makes you think. A little bit like American Beauty. The story is well put together and the acting quite impressive - gives you a strong real life impression. A school teacher needs money so he can be around the sister of one of his trouble-making students. His book (just released on the market) didn't have any buyers, so he need other funding sources. You'll see what and how. Overall, a movie not to miss.
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10/10
best comedy about romanian life
Vali2520 November 2003
One of the best movies after the romanian Revolution. ( December 1989 ). If you have a chance to see it, don't missed.
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9/10
worth watching!
irinaidu1 July 2006
i totally liked this movie. not because it was good or bad but because it was the first Romanian movie that seemed to actually be a movie. the rest of Romanian movies seem to be theatrical plays that got caught on camera. and i could actually understand what they were saying because usually in Romanian movies the sound is so bad it makes you wish you had subtitles. so maybe this movie was not a subtle one, or a very hard to understand one, but it was definitely easy to watch( which is a big deal for a Romanian movie),close to reality ( unfortunately) and had some unforgettable lines that have became part of the popular culture. maybe if you are not Romanian you don't get what the big deal is, and why this movie is a big accomplishment and maybe it looks like other eastern European movies which would not be so surprising since we did kind of had he same history. but it is an important movie because it manages to be different: it's well directed, well filmed and it's entertaining! so hopefully the next Romanian films will only be better!
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7/10
Good but not that good
Angeneer26 December 2005
I can understand reviewers from Romania who seem to be quite proud for this movie, because something similar has happened in Greece during the last years (very similar example: "Politiki Kouzina"). When you are used to very low standards of film-making and suddenly a movie is up to western standards in terms of direction, photography and production, you tend to overemphasize on the technical quality and diminish the importance of the plot, the characters' depth and the acting. And here, I'm afraid, lie Filantropica weak points. This is by no means a social satire. It is too shallow for that. The protagonist (although brilliantly played by Mircea Diaconu) is just a comic figure and we cannot feel empathy for his situation. The main gimmicks are too unrealistic to be believed and the comic value is quickly worn out.

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.
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7/10
Is this 'bout being "proud"?
munteanu-antonio1 December 2006
This post is intended as a reply to all my fellow Romanians who felt the urge to patriotically vote this movie as the best they've seen.

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!

Toni.
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6/10
not as impressive as suggested
kalafiorny15 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Filantropica" was the first Romanian movie that I've seen, and, being very interested in learning about Romanian cinema, I, frankly, hope that the reviewer who says that it's the best Romanian film ever is wrong.

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?
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10/10
This is a healer
viccraft22 October 2010
I don't believe this movie was made to win a prize. I also don't believe the cast tried to impress some critics that would give some high ranking in a list, somewhere in the world. It's a movie for romanians, more precisely for the hearts of romanian people. It's a healing movie, for if you understand your wounds, you can be your own medic. It's not a "see once" movie and you can't give a mark based on a singular experience.

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.

Thank you.
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10/10
no more words need it
yaz00us14 January 2003
Best romanian movie ever. Need to be seen. I hope that if it will be accepted as a nominee for OSCAR - "Best Foreign Movie" it will win...is truly the best movie I saw. What you can see in the movie is a point of view for the "underground" life in Romania.
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10/10
Excellent Movie !!!
aletannu28 January 2007
I can't say that "Filantropica" is the best romanian film ever made. It may be the best of it's kind, but there are many romanian movies of different genres I saw and I recommend you to watch. To return to this movie... I have to say is very well done entirely, with an excellent script and a very good acting. On the other hand I have to contradict other users that wrote here about it's genre. It isn't a comedy at all. It's a DRAMA. A drama of the common romanian people in Romania's transition period after the revolution in '89. I admit it's a drama with comic accents, but not a comedy under any circumstances. So you should modify this movie's genre in DRAMA/comedy. Anyway it's a sinuous movie with expected and unexpected events reflectind almost in entirely the reality of those years.

I really recommend it 100% !
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Charity Theme Too Close to Home
sjwegg25 January 2003
Director Nae Caranfil wasn't short of Romanian anecdotes and stories before the screening of his fourth feature film when I saw it at the Palm Springs International Film Festival: Q: What's the difference between a Romania pessimist and optimist; A: "The pessimist says, 'Things couldn't possibly get worse;' the optimist says 'Oh yes they can.'" And when those attending revealed their knowledge of his native country was confined to the birthplace of Dracula, we were assured, with a knowing grin, that the film to follow would be "a dark, hopeless, miserable comedy." Well, three out of four isn't bad!

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.
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10/10
The hand that doesn't tell a story, receives nothing!
cgorie25 April 2002
The hand that doesn't tell a story, receives nothing! Well organized and well acted, Nae Caranfil's latest movie is a black comedy that is sure to get to your hart. The film is about the drama of a high-school teacher in his mid 40's, a touching flop caught up in the real life of Bucharest!
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10/10
The best Eastern European movie ever
joeyfocsani16 September 2005
I saw the movie for 4 times and I truly believe that,although Romanian filmography had many masterpieces,this is perhaps the greatest of them all.Nae Cramfil proved to be a genius and after a period of living outside the borders of his native Romania,he came back to shoot this extraordinary film about the harsh life of Bucharest and about how low can a human being get to survive.(it can get as low to the point where it isn't a human being anymore).The movie shows in a bitter funny way the lives of beggars and the lives of the people ,rich people who profit and thrive because of the beggars.The plentiful life of those who are so cruel that they base their entire existence on profiting from the mercy showed by other people towards the poor or homeless.And Gheorghe Dinica's line at the end of the movie :'If you have mercy,your money is mine" is absolutely brilliant as well as the entire screenplay.
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10/10
Best Romanian Movie
mh_bica17 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The BEST Romanian Movie as i consider it, does not have in its distribution the best Romanian actor (or as he is called - the most "international" Romanian actor) - Marcel Iures. But seeing the movie i really cannot see a place for him in the context, because the story is simply so well built and the actors so well chosen. The advantage here i think, is that Romania does not have a very heavy film industry and Romanian actors work very much in the theater acting scene, which really increases an actor's skills.

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.
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10/10
the hand that does not tell a story....
CataTM28 January 2003
First of all, Nae Caramfil's movie is a masterpiece, there no doubt about it. I'm convinced that the movie will take the Oscar award. There no sense for me to tell the story again because i think you all have seen it. The others, that haven't seen the movies don't miss it. It's the real thing.
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5/10
Not bad, but also not specially good
ben-7272 May 2006
I don't think this is a special good movie as it had stated in other comments. I wonder why the Romanian film critics call it the best in the Romanian film history. It is indeed better than a lot of American B-films, but you certainly find a lot of such type of stuff in French and Italian movies. Therefore saying this one as the best film in the Romanian film history it might be not really fair to those other Romanian films of good qualities. The acting of the main male leading role in this film is not special good. The support actors are also only so and so up to basic standard. The worse thing is that the whole movie is full of flaws. You call it black comedy? Where is the laughing part then anyway? Well, the story itself is a big joke, perhaps one should laugh for that. And where is the "black" part? I find the Russian film "The bride" can even in a simple and natural way to reflect the situation of the poor living lives.

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.
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9/10
a nice romantic comedy
radugrigore12 April 2002
It is the story of a high school teacher in a society of contrast. In Bucharest there are rich men, poor man, and dogs. The dogs form the middle class. This is how this movie begins.

The story is an instrument used to explore and reveal some characteristics of this society.
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