DVD Funeralii fericite

DVD Funeralii fericite
DVD Funeralii fericite
Rating: 8.2
Genres: Comedy
Director: Horatiu Malaele
Writers: Adrian Lustig
Stars: Horatiu Malaele, Crina Semciuc, Igor Caras-Romanov
Three heavy boozers – a Romanian (Horatiu Malaele), a Russian (Igor Caras-Romanov) and a Bulgarian (Mihai Gruia Sandu) – are tripling away their… happiness, into vodka, at “The Happy Immigrant”, a joint kept by a Turk. The fauna of this venue is made up out of the Babel Tower’s survivors: immigrants who had chosen Romania, as a country where everything is possible. The predictions included… A police raid chases away the pub’s barflies. The three professional boozers stop from running just in front of a fortune teller expert in a niche field: death prediction. The rest is entertainment! Although we are all indebted to one death, some refuse to pay this debt. They don’t want to die when it was written for them. Or just predicted… Written by Adrian Lustig
Country: Romania
Release Date: 7 June 2013 (Romania)
Box Office
Budget: RON 2,600,000 (estimated)

1 Comment

  1. Interesting movie, though slow paced. Maybe this is due to main actor/director Malaele's theatre background, but the film really needed another edit to speed things up. You can see its theatrical heritage by its use of broad ethnic stereotypes – drunk Russians, loud Italians, shopkeeping Arabs, fortune telling Gypsies, Soviet-style building concierge (only Eastern Europeans who lived through Socialism will get that one), African whores. Actually, this is not a bad feature. Most Romanian films I've seen are a little self-obsessed about What It Means To Be Romanian in a self-deprecating but also self-congratulatory way, so injecting 'foreign' colour (played by Romanian actors) is a welcome change, at least for pacing and comedy. The film is supposed to be about death. Not only announced by the title, but by the blurb and by the opening allegorical scene with figures from the commedia dell'arte prancing about in an almost blank stage. The film starts briskly as three friends get drunk and end up getting their fortunes told by a Gypsy, who predicts when they will die and, for the first two, that they will die unusual and even burlesque deaths. Through a series of funny events, handled deftly and quickly by director Malaele, the first two predictions come through, leaving the third (played by Malaele) to contemplate his impending doom four or five days from now. That's when the film slows down. We get the absurdist Eastern European tradition being evoked here: convinced that his fate is inevitable, our hero visits a funeral home to arrange a casket (kudos to the funeral director, a nod to Dr. Strangelove and Pall Bearer), a tailor to get fitted for a burial suit. The rest is anticlimax. While waiting, our hero drinks and gets involuntarily involved in some absurd but highly predictable events: his friends and neighbours steal his stuff that he will no longer need, and a popular media-fed campaign tries to save his life. This last detail I found irritating, an absurdist but heavy-handed blurring of the dividing line between fantasy and reality, like we're back in the 1960s with Jean-Paul Sartre and finding out that hell is just like home but surrounded with ordinary people (such as yourself – Get It?); it's not Fellini. Way too much time is spent exploring this path, with on the one hand ridiculing people's superficial emotional commitment to save him fuelled by simple mob sentimentality and by slavishly embracing the media, and on the other, our hero's drunken disdain for the mob and its efforts. So, are we supposed to think he's found his dignity in accepting his fate? These scenes of his final days are way too detailed (for example, when he boards up his apartment) and too long and self-indulgent. He's perpetually drunk, so what does his rejection of the salvation movement mean? Then why the breakdown at the end when he implores God to save him and give him a few more years? His time comes and he seems to accept death but rejoices when he survives past midnight (the Gypsy's prediction). Death comes in the guise of visit from a beautiful player from the commedia dell'arte troupe in a neighbouring apartment, followed by some musing on the meaning of life and death. It's all a little allegorically heavy and obvious at this point. I was grateful the end was coming. We know almost from the start where this theme will go. The problem is that the movie slows to a crawl after dealing with his friends' deaths in the first half or so. Up to that point the pacing and subtlety were fine, with quick cuts and scene jumps. After, though, we're being led by a plodding camera and allegedly thoughtful script. It's dealing with death, which is not the easiest theme in the world, but it would have been helped by lopping off 15 minutes in the second half and perhaps communicating the message (death is unpredictable, so live well) more by allusion and less by long drawn out soul searching. The problem is that most of the second half takes place in his sombre apartment, which makes the director's task more difficult; maybe quicker cuts? More distance between lens and hero? It's too theatrical, too slow, too focused on Malaele. Don't expect a masterpiece, but enjoy it for what it is: a non-Hollywood and non mainstream film made by people who know a lot about acting but maybe need more practice in making the transition from theatre to film.

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