mai 2024
Festivalul de Film Cannes, 2024
Citiți versiunea în română aici.

My office is now on the beach and I've started writing about Coppola's global premiere, Megalopolis. A super grande name for any film, which aims to softly graze the lips of cinematography's history in quite a blatant manner, which wants to sit up there next to Lord Of The Rings or Star Wars - but doesn't even have much of that Pulp either (dumb joke.) Its premise is a sort of monoCopolly, a sort of historical dibs on an Rome adapted to contemporaneity.

But I've watched it in Cineum, at the IMAX, which is an experience in itself. With popcorn, on some huge, elegant seats, I even went to the loo there. One shit of a film. Grande. But I'll come back to it later to take it apart in more detail, maybe I'll do a separate faux-pedestal review, because it does deserve it: the ancient incest, the attempted contextualisation and contemporaneity, the unsuccessful demythologising and remythologising, the hyper-aesthetic pretentiousness, the artistic masturbation on very high horses, a film about power and resources more than anything else. A film about the guy who made it, but untouchable in a way, the type to run at least weekly on BBC One.

(Megalopolis had good and honest bits too, so it would be nice to take a look at it detached from everything else, hence why I will come back with a separate review.)

I've started with this to point out that I left the cinema during the last 15 mins of the 2hr20min of Coppolian journey, because, superimposed in a way, the premiere of Three Kilometres to the End of the World, dir. Emanuel Parvu, was about to begin at Grand Théâtre Lumière. This film is Romania's entry in the competition for the Palme d'Or 2024, two years after Cristian Mungiu's RMN.

Three Kilometres to the End of the World (and not 300, like I said once and I was corrected on the spot, thanks. It doesn't matter how many, that's the point. Any distance works. But three is very well chosen, because it talks more about a proximity, depending on where you look at it from and who you ask) is the third film by Emanuel Parvu, after Meda or The Not So Bright Side of Things which got two awards at the Sarajevo Film Festival in 2018 and Marocco / Mikado (2021 San Sebastián Festival.)

It tells the story of Adi, a 17 year old from a village in the Danube Delta who, through his parents' efforts, is studying in a bigger town, Tulcea. Back home for the summer holidays, Adi feels good together with his family and his best friend Ilinca. When the family is violently confronted with a truth that they can neither understand nor accept, the unconditional love that Adi should receive from his parents suddenly vanishes, and Adi is left with only one choice.

The film is produced by Miruna Berescu, FAMart, and features Bogdan Dumitrache, Laura Vasiliu, Ciprian Chiujdea, Ingrid Micu-Berescu, Valeriu Andriuță. There's also Adrian Titieni, Richard Bovnoczki, Alina Berzunteanu, Vlad Brumaru and Radu Gabriel.What really caught my eye, besides Laura as the mother and Ingrid as the best friend, was Adi himself (played by Ciprian Chiujdea), a humble and sensitive guy, super talented, in the role of a humble and sensitive guy.Adi comes back from Tulcea (where he goes to school) to his village during the summer holidays. Uni is to follow, but obviously the plot takes quite a turn. Vlad Crudu appears as a catalyst during a pseudoromantic scene where Adi's sexual orientation is revealed. All good so far, but afterwards the unfairness of the rural universe is superimposed on us in its entirety.

The village gangster's boys beat the shit out of Adi, disfiguring him (well, it's not exactly a spoiler, you can see it on the poster too) for the simple reason that 'he takes it up the ass' (according to their statements given to the police.)

From here onwards the full picture of the rural world starts to take shape: 1. the mega corruption - the Police is hand in hand with the dad of one of the thugs; 2. the pure dogma and ideology - after the parents' shock passes, they find out about Adi's 'abnormal' sexual orientation and they, hyper-religious nutjobs, go completely mad and become these monsters. They keep Adi locked inside and take a religious approach in a series of offenses that are morally justified by 'what will people say.'

For the current Eastern European context, in this world where indoctrination and the cultural faux-pas are so prevalent and transform people into animals of their own righteousness, this local Billy Elliot, non-musical and much more aggressive feels like a perfect X-ray of our times, unfortunately.

Then there's all this struggle of the protagonist, the love mixed with hatred of his parents, the need to hold whoever is responsible for the abuses and the injustice accountable, no matter who they are, the social barriers in the village... There's also a sad resignation rooted in loyalty, respect and actually love. For me this film felt hard, visceral. I had lumps in my throat and I was thinking how satisfying it would be to see some justice being served, but I was even more taken by the film's structure which wouldn't simply deliver it, making me want it even more badly.

'The end of the world' now becomes 'The end of the film,' not the film per se, but the return to the initial, human tranquility. That's where the novelty of the structure suggested in the title appears: there's always 3 (more) kilometres until that point, no matter where we are. Culturally, there's no evolution, never. Just an imposed tolerance, equally painful for both sides. Decades of enlightenment and dozens of transitory environments are needed in order to not think of someone with 'an orientation different from the norm' as 'deviant' or 'mentally ill.' This norm being of course set by peer pressure, by the Bible, by a priest, by a violent stubbornness, by a perpetual 'the fuck do you care?' And in this social hierarchy of the minds (even if from a village at 'the end of the world') the ones resorting to violence always win. A natural, human respect compels Adi to deal with it, accept and not reply back to his mum's blows or screams. But not out of tolerance. Out of pure love, coming from that same place where suffering is also born.

And these people who focus on 'humanity,' conditioning it, can justify everything with abominable ineptitudes. That's why this film triggered me so much (in a good way). It's got a certain subtlety, it shows life, no matter how raw and unfair it may well turn out to be. It's maybe the most suave (but also brutal, paradoxically) mimesis cinematographic piece I've seen in a while. Psychological tension doubled by physical dehumanisation: from expressions to desperate gestures, from taking revenge to forgiving, but never entirely. Like squeezing juice out of a lemon, each time a little bit more.

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