Occident is a bittersweet comedy that focuses on the growing tendency of Eastern European youth to migrate west. When the amicable Luci (Alexandru Papadopol) and his beautiful lover Sorina ... See full summary »
Romeo Aldea (49), a physician living in a small mountain town in Transylvania, has raised his daughter Eliza with the idea that once she turns 18, she will leave to study and live abroad. His plan is close to succeeding - Eliza has won a scholarship to study psychology in the UK. She just has to pass her final exams - a formality for such a good student. On the day before her first written exam, Eliza is assaulted in an attack that could jeopardize her entire future. Now Romeo has to make a decision. There are ways of solving the situation, but none of them using the principles he, as a father, has taught his daughter.Written by
69th Cannes International Film Festival 2016
Eliza, you have to do your best. It'd be a pity to miss this chance. Some important steps in life depend on small things. And some chances shouldn't be wasted. You know, in '91, your Mum and I decided to move back. It was a bad decision. We thought things would change, we thought we'd move mountains. We didn't move anything. I have no regrets, though. At least we tried...
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After lifelong avoiding corruption, how attractive can it be to counter your principles in an exceptional case when a child's future is at stake
Seen at the Film Fest Ghent 2016 (website: filmfestival.be/en). In the last four years, I've seen several depressing movies about corruption in former Communist countries. It seems a popular topic in the area, as can be readily derived from noteworthy examples like Durak/The Fool (Bykov 2014), Dolgaya Schastlivaya Zhizn/A Long And Happy Life (Khlebnikov 2013), and Leviathan (Zvyagintsev 2014). Even though the movie at hand follows suit on the same path, it however winds up being not that depressing as the others. Especially the final scenes brought some silver lining for the country's future, albeit that I'm not so sure it is the actual message that the film makers try to drive home.
Anyway, the running time is more than 2 hours, but I could not spot any boring or redundant scene. Everything included in the script was necessary and useful, emphasizing how convoluted the tangled web became as woven by the various protagonists. It made abundantly clear that one step causes the next step, and so on and so on, until the point that no backpedaling is possible anymore. In other words, the original policy of our lead character Romeo may not have brought him wealth or influence in the past, yet his route was straightforward and devoid of complex deals deserving counter deals to make the circle round.
The threesome family seemed a happy family from the outset, which proved gradually untrue in small steps. The case was not that their problems were unnatural or far-fetched, therefore it took its time for the cracks to become visible. Progress developed slowly but steadily. It was a surprise, for me that is, that there was some sort of resolution in the end. It countered the assumed morale of this movie (my assumption), that there is no middle road in corruption: either one steers clear of it, or one gets involved in complex arrangements from which one cannot get loose once started.
All in all, two hours well spent while watching my favorite theme develop on screen, at the same time asking myself what I should have done in similar circumstances. Such thought provoking plots are very welcome, mostly also carrying an existential takeaway message hidden under an exercise for the viewer. We were taught that Honesty Is The Best Policy, but the plot of this movie lets you get doubts underway.
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