- 2h 6min
In August 1983, architect Dinu Neagu together with his wife and two children, a boy and a girl, are on a beach of nudists near an industrial area. He is arrested and taken to Bucharest polic... Read allIn August 1983, architect Dinu Neagu together with his wife and two children, a boy and a girl, are on a beach of nudists near an industrial area. He is arrested and taken to Bucharest police office, where he is imprisoned in a cell together with Vali, a collaborator of the Secur... Read allIn August 1983, architect Dinu Neagu together with his wife and two children, a boy and a girl, are on a beach of nudists near an industrial area. He is arrested and taken to Bucharest police office, where he is imprisoned in a cell together with Vali, a collaborator of the Security Service.
The two men locked in the same cell are apparently the victim and the executioner. Architect Dinu Neagu (Alexandru Papadopol) is a naive and innocent citizen who lives a nightmare worthy of Kafka, being snatched from a vacation he spent with his family at sea, transported to Bucharest and thrown into the militia cellar, without explaining why he is accused or suspected of guilt. Vali (Iulian Postelnicu) is a common law detainee, collaborator of the Securitate, whose mission is to snatch from Dinu the confessions that a regular investigation could not obtain, through 'unconventional' methods that combine psychological pressure and physical torture . These practices were common during the communist dictatorship, and resulted in numerous collaborations with the Security and convictions. Among them, at least one famous case - that of Gheorghe Ursu - resulted in the death of the detainee, an innocent man. Obviously, the presumption of innocence of the defendant until the end of the trial was not applied. Moreover, from a moment on, the regime sought to invent enemies, turning petty offenses (such as listening to 'decadent' rock music on Western radio stations) into crimes against state order in order to intimidate. the rest of the population.
Hanna Arendt wrote about the 'banality of evil'. When I saw Andrei Cohn's film, a paraphrase came to my mind: 'the relativism of evil'. The two men locked in the space of the detention cell start from opposite positions, but the dynamics of what we see in the two hours of film representing a few days of detention brings them strangely closer. Dinu Neagu is one of the many who tried to survive the regime by isolating himself in the circle of friends, with his intellectual preoccupations and with the small entertainments in a space that he thought was private. He is not a hero, and he quickly gives in to pressure, denounces his friends, even helps his executioner write the informative notes that accuses him. But we can't condemn him, we can only wonder if we would have had the strength to behave differently in those years in his situation, suddenly thrown into a nightmare. Vali also presents himself to us in a more nuanced way as we get to know him, on the one hand he also has the 'wisdom of the street' but also a layer of popular culture that allows him to orient himself in discussions with Dinu. On the one hand, his horizon is wider than we can suspect at the beginning, on the other hand, his manipulative power and the slip towards sadism in the execution of the mission are extreme, the collaborator probably exceeding even the expectations of his superiors in zeal. The two characters symbolize a fracture of the Romanian society that already existed during the communist period and that continues in the decades after 1989.
Andrei Cohn has a good command of the cinematographic means and has used them intelligently and efficiently. The interpretation of the two actors is exceptional, psychologically deep, attentive to all the details of the behavior and of the language specific to the period. The cinematography is excellently adapted to the limits of the space of the detention room, with its gray colors and right angles. There was no music, just noises. My only observation would be about the darkness scenes. Andrei Cohn may have intended to have us experience the confusion and panic of the hero, but the scenes are too dark and simply hard to watch. The set reminded me of American horror movies that take place in the closed space of a single room or basement - in fact we are dealing with a horror movie, a political horror.
- Jul 24, 2020