After publishing two novels and penning the screenplays for several recent Romanian films, Razvan Radulescu
makes his directing debut with First of All, Felicia
, alongside Melissa de Raaf.
This film, of a heartrending simplicity, is a family drama that doesn't resemble any of his other cinema credits. Recounted in a few words, it might seem commonplace: a life-long day in Felicia's personal history. She's 40, divorced, has a boy and a new life in Holland, and came home for the holidays to visit her parents. The story begins a few hours before the return flight to Amsterdam....
The dialogue has that gripping familiarity which makes you see, especially in the apartment scenes, your own family relationships, turned absurd for so many reasons with the lapse of time. Each character is blind to the others' world, they don't recognize each other as they've become perfect strangers with only blood to bind them.
Essentially, it's a three-character film. The rest are just voices, and I'm not randomly saying this: there is a lot of talking on the phone. Playing the part of Felicia, Ozana Oancea
is unforgettable. Confused, aggravated, angry, desperate, she moves with unbelievable ease through every possible emotion. Playing the mother, Ileana Cernat is an obsessive, insufferable presence, armed with every good intention. The father (Vasile Mentzel), looking like a ghost infantilized by illness, becomes a sort of adornment within this "normal" family.
Because this is what it's all about, a normality we feel with every fiber, but which, seen on screen, seems twice as dreadful. And as painful.
First ofAll, Felicia
is an impeccable film, with a lucidity that borders on cruelty. And as moving as it can be. It lingers, it stays with you like a mirror in which you see yourself and the ones you love. And then you think you're not alone.