Monday, November 28, 2011

Morgen (2010) The 6th Romanian Film Festival in New York

Wednesday night the Romanian Film Festival opens at Lincoln Center.The series runs through December Sixth. I attended some of the press screenings and I'll be letting you know about two of the titles.

Morgen is the Opening Night film and I'll be hard pressed to know why it was chosen as the opening film. This isn't to say that it's a bad film, rather it's simply to say that film is nothing special.

A bone dry comedy, this is the story of Nelu,a supermarket security guard, who lives on a run down farm near the Romanian Hungarian border. His main passion is fishing. One day he meets a Kurdish man who is trying to get to Germany in order to meet his family. The film chronicles the growing bond between the two men as our hero attempts to get his new friend home.

Told in a long single takes (though nothing on the order of Bela Tarr) the film is a series of sequences where life sort of happens.

One of the problems with the film is that sequences seem to run on and on and on. At one point we watch as the two men are sitting on the farm's porch and we see a tractor comes down the road turns down the drive, drives all the way down the drive. It stops, a three line conversation happens before the tractor turns around and drives back up to the street? Did we need to see all of that? Did we need to see the long driving sequences? If this film was tightened up just a bit this might have been a better film.

Another problem with the film is that a great deal isn't explained. Who is the traveler? Is he a Gypsy? An Arab? a Turk? The press notes say he is a Kurd. Really? Its never explained. The really big question that is never explained is why Nelu takes him in. The two men can't communicate yet suddenly they are`together.

The humor in the film is very hit and miss. The scenes involving the various border crossings (As the film opens our hero is prevented from bringing a fish he caught across the border because it's a live and he might have stolen it. It would have been fine had it been dead), the soccer match gone wrong, and some of the stops by the police are laugh getters, but outside of those we get some smiles but no real laughs.

Forgive me, I don't get it. I don't get the love this film has found in some circles. I don't know why this film is an Opening Night Film. I certainly don't understand it's being put up for the Foreign Language Oscar (though that probably explains the Opening position in the festival.) The film reminded me very much of the very much better Le Harve, which is one of the best films of the year in my humble opinion.

I like the film but I don't love it. I'm glad I saw it, but I don't know if it was worth the trip into the city.

If you like very dry humor give it a shot (though you may want to wait for DVD)

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