In spite of sharing with the recent string of Romanian films their rough aesthetics, handheld camera movements and a propensity for long, almost improvisational takes, Constantin Popescu's debut feature doesn't actually look like anything done up until now in the much talked about New Romanian Cinema. After a series of diverse but earnest shorts (A Lineman's Cabin, The Apartment and, especially, Water, a sort of "dress rehearsal" for Portrait), the director decided to go for a project of epic, almost mad ambition - a trilogy about the armed anticommunist resistance of the 1950s, a painful and still bleeding chapter of Romania's post-WW2 history. The first chapter of this "men with guns" trilogy (entitled Almost Silence) focuses on the emblematic and highly controversial figure of Ioan Gavrilă Ogoranu; the second chapter will talk about the Arnăuţoiu brothers, while the final chapter will be devoted to Elisabeta Rizea. Now, before proceeding to the next level, there are two or three things one has to explain, and fast - the miniscandal which accompanied the Berlin premiere of the film (Forum 2010) is half stupid, half malicious and fully ridiculous; the (unavoidable) comparison to Che (Guerilla especially) is only partially justified (and should be taken as a compliment); Constantin's project is older than Soderbergh's (who, nevertheless, inherited it from Terrence Malick); the film was ready before (I) the Cannes premiere of the latter; its ideology is exactly the opposite and, anyway, I don't think there are too many ways of filming dead beat fighters in the mountains and downhill, who no longer know where to go and why; and finally, with all its reenactment resemblances (underlined, it's true, by way of too many insertions, dates and explanations) and with all the years the director spent studying the archives, Portrait is by no means didactic or, worse, a historical film. It's a brutal and much needed epic, a welcome variation in the urban/minute landscape of the past few years, a bow taken for a group of (very young) men whom history, even with a capital "H," barely acknowledges, and a sort of mild but firm reprimand addressed to all those still thinking this country is populated exclusively by cowards and villains.