The "new Romanian cinema" has always had a knack for creating that horrifically queasy sensation of butterflies in your stomach while you're watching an inexorable and all too human fight against the inevitable, whether in openly tragic or absurdly satirical mode. It's also taking the risk of falling in a trap of its own making, as practically all features seem to adhere to a series of unwritten rules that remind of the short-lived "Dogme" style: long, unbroken takes, naturalistic acting and lighting, absence of music.

     Radu Jude's sophomore feature after The Happiest Girl in the World follows the precepts - but takes them one step further by shifting gears halfway through. It starts as snarky satire, as divorced father Marius (Șerban Pavlu) heads to pick up his daughter for a weekend at the beach and has to deal with both his parents and his ex-wife's new lover. Then it turns up the pressure to push the tale into a fully-fledged, freewheeling meltdown that would be hysterical if the underlying desperation wasn't so strongly portrayed by Mr. Pavlu as the hapless Marius, a bit of a man-child who is obviously devoted to his daughter and oblivious to the juggernaut of trouble his short temper will get him in.

     Mr. Jude puts us from the start on Marius's side, but takes great care in not blinding us to his darkness, generating sympathy and understanding through a series of cleverly dropped clues that will only make sense with later plot developments, making sure to upend any easy categorizations. What Everybody in Our Family seems to be closest to is a boisterous, darker, Romanian version of Asghar Farhadi's A Separation gone wrong: as in that film, the storm is being whipped at the expense of little Sofia (Sofia Nicolaescu), a mere pawn in a much bigger game where the grown-ups are behaving more like children than the little 'uns. Mr. Jude ratchets the tension mercilessly until Everybody in Our Family threatens to explode in blood and violence - and the result is the next step or the next level that the "new Romanian cinema" deserves to move up to. An unreservedly great film.

Șerban Pavlu, Sofia Nicolaescu, Mihaela Sîrbu, Gabriel Spahiu, Tamara Buciuceanu-Botez, Stela Popescu, Alexandru Arșinel.
      Director, Radu Jude; screenplay, Mr. Jude, Corina Sabău, Andrei Butică; cinematography, Mr. Butică (colour, processing by Kodak Cinelabs Romania); designer, Elsje de Bruijn; costumes, Augustina Stanciu; editor, Cătălin F. Cristuțiu; producer, Ada Solomon (Hi Films, Circe Films, Abis Studio), Romania/Netherlands, 2012, 107 minutes.
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2012 advance screener, Lisbon, April 9th 2012. 


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