Dir: Radu Muntean.Romania. 2008. 103mins.
InRomania, Radu Muntean’s third feature film will ultimately be seen as a carefully-studied, remarkably accurate image of the country’s thirtysomething generation right now. Elsewhere, however, Boogie looks like an old-fashioned throwback to those endless talky New Wave films. A far cry from his earlier Fury and particularly The Paper Will Be Blue, this is a loose, slow-moving elegy in which a happily married man realizes that he should stop being nostalgic for the wild days and nights of his bachelorhood.
This talk-fest takes place over one night in one of the country’s less than glamorous beach resorts and is handled with poise by a quartet of Romania ‘s top actors - they’re almost enough to distract the audience from their intentionally drab and unflattering backgrounds. This should be a hit at home (although Romania ‘s exhibition options are modest at best), but Maximum Films will have a tough job to push the picture beyond festival dates and restricted art house distribution.
Bogdan (Bucur), better known to his friends as Boogie, has taken a weekend off at the beach with his wife Smaranda (Marinca) and their four-year-old son when he has a chance meeting with two old friends from his single days, Penescu (Branescu) and Iordache (Vancica). A dutiful father who is being harassed by the office, he initially goes out with them in the evening. But when he returns later than expected to the annoyance of his wife, he leaves again and stays out until morning.
In the course of the night the trio hits the wine, reminisces about the past, and finally takes a hooker back to a hotel room. Yearning for the days when they were carefree adolescents, their initial pretences disintegrate: Penescu is less than happy with the successful career he claims to have in the tourist industry while Iordache doesn’t want to marry his Swedish girlfriend although he will have to if he wants a passport.
The film’s discoloured, unattractive look seems a deliberate attempt to reflect present-day Romanian reality but it doesn’t make for easy viewing. The same goes for the pace, set by the lethargy of the characters who aren’t particularly forceful. On the other hand, the Ceausescu era is cleverly shown slipping into the past, and Boogie underlines the first, tentative steps of the country into a capitalist system. Though often insufficiently lit, the actors’ natural, spontaneous performances come through convincingly, particularly Marinca and Bucur.
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