Magazine article Screen International

Everybody in Our Family

Magazine article Screen International

Everybody in Our Family

Article excerpt

Dir. Radu Jude. Romania-Netherlands. 2012. 108mins

Radu Jude's new family drama has all the advantages and drawbacks of a high quality Polaroid picture. Interesting point of view, authentic feeling, nicely defined character portraits, but also no depth, no beginning or end, just that fascinating single image. Running hot and cold, between short spells of humour and explosions of frustration, it lacks a real plot or structure, but it certainly packs a load of suppressed anger and violence, using the kind of language that no subtitles could do justice to.

To Jude's credit,his characters ring true even when they go berserk.

Rather too long for its own good, Everybody In Our Family (Toata lumea din familia noastra) starts with a premise that will be familiar to everyone, but once established, most audiences would like it to go somewhere, instead of moving in circles, as it does here. Marital strife has apparently replaced the miseries of the Ceausescu regime as the theme of predilection for several Romanian filmmakers.

In Radu Muntean's Tuesday After Christmas a husband tells his wife at the peak of the high holidays that he is leaving her and moving in with his girlfriend, while in Cristi Puiu's brooding Aurora, a man wrecks his revenge on the wife who abandoned him, on her lover and her entire family. Now comes Radu Jude with an exasperated husband willing to declare war on his estranged wife, her mother and her new boyfriend because they try to stop him from taking his daughter to the beach.

Marius (Serban Pavlu) and Otilia (Mihaela Sarbu) separated several years ago in circumstances that do not exactly matter, since each character in this script has his own version of what happened, regardless of the truth. Having lost most of his property in the court settlement, Marius still has the right to visit his five year-old daughter, Sofia (Sofia Nicolaescu), who stays with Otilia, her mother, Coca (Tamara Buciuceanu-Botez) and Otilia's new partner in life, Aurel (Gabriel Spahiu), all of them living in what used to be Marius' old flat.

When he comes to take his daughter on a pre-scheduled hike to the seaside, they all try to prevent it, pretending the girl is sick with high fever. He suspects they're lying, insists on having his own way and before long polite conversations degenerate into vociferous arguments, then into blows and the police are called in at a certain point. …

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