Dir: Catalin Mitulescu. Rom-Fr. 2006. 106mins.
More like a quick guide to recent history rather thana fully rounded first feature, Catalin Mitulescu's debut TheWay I Spent The End Of The Worldpaints a disturbing realistic, if often disorganised,portrait of Romanian life during 1989, the last year of the Ceausescu era.
Blending childhood pranksand sexual awakening with political terror and everyday misery, it should finda niche in numerous film events wordlwide, and maymake some limited headway commercially once its loose ends are properlytightened. The film screened in Un Certain Regard atCannes as well as at Transylvania.
When 17-year-old Eva (Petre) accidentally overturns a Ceausescu bust at school,she is kicked out of her prestigious college and exiled to a reformatoryinstitution. But her boyfriend and neighbour Alex (Becheru),the son of a security agent, is let off with a reprimand.
At her new school Eva meetsAndrei (Vararu), whose dissident parents have alreadybeen dealt with by the authorities, and they decide to escape together acrossthe Danube. When their plan fails to materialise as hoped, Eva's seven-year oldbrother Lalalilu (Duma)decides that the only way to make everyone happy is to get rid of Ceausescu -and he knows just how to do it.
Catalin Mitulescu, whosescreenplay for The Way I Spent The End OfThe World won the Sundance/NHK award for best European project last year - MartinScorsese and Wim Wendersare credited as executive producers - has evidently plugged into his reservoirof memories from the recent past, assembling an eloquent evocation of asheltered period that mixed terror yet also fond memory.
Family life and the tenserelationship between parents and their offspring or the wariness and mistrustthat keeps everyone alert to how their every word and gesture might beinterpreted only add to the sense of authenticity.
Some of the details, likefrequent power cuts or TV only being available for two hours per day, willreverberate better for home audiences than further afield.Others, like the disturbing meek public submission to Ceausescu's iron-fistdictatorship, combined with the intense hatred it inspired, can easily beappreciated everywhere.
At times The Way I Spent The End OfThe World feels chaotic, and it can be argued that this is simply areflection of the era. But it is often lacks a sense of pace and feels morelike a montage, elliptically jumping from one event to another, only to then befollowed by a sluggish episode indulgently allowed to last too long.
Les Films Pelleas