Why him? Cristian Panduru (alias Cristian Panait), the intelligent, hardworking, conscientious, elegant, promising young prosecutor? Why did his superiors choose him to be the pushover and the fool, throwing him in the snaky swarming of the politics and of the secret services that devour each other? Because as his direct boss, prosecutor Codrea, cynically explains him towards the end of the film, they thought him to be a lot more stupid and hungry.
This is the profound and helpless message of Tudor Giurgiu
`s film: the stupidity and the hunger (for money, of course) are the springs that move our post December society in its decisional divisions.
The political film, more or less a thriller, was a successful genre in the `60s and `70s and it developed especially in Italy where the realities of the society connected to the corruption represented an extremely rich source of inspiration for some brave directors like Francesco Rosi, Elio Petri or Damiano Damiani. They were joined by the Greek Costa Gavras from France with films like Z, The Confession
or The State of Siege
. Inevitably, they are the models that we appeal to even today; their films are like cold knife blades cutting the topic revealing the criminal mechanisms that the magnates of the day were trying to hide.
No wonder Why Me?
is a political film that, at least in form, intends to keep the same austerity and reservedness. The main character, Cristian Panduru is obstinately seen from behind, the camera focusing on his shoulders that the entire scaffolding of lies and malversations will fall upon. He goes along the hallways of a bleak, imposing building, passes by iron grillage, knocks on doors that take nowhere, as if the entire world around him is made of iron and stone.
His stubborn actions to discover the truth take him from one dead end to another. The temporary drawbacks –a missed interrogation, an unsuccessful perquisition - turn into counts in the indictment. His bosses become his enemies, his friends dodge, the accused that he must discover escapes him because the guilt is somewhere else, up, a lot more above him. His professional consciousness has nothing to do in this malaxator of frauds, interests, hand and glove deeds and the action inexorably unfolds towards the tragic end of the prosecutor above any doubt. He doesn`t become insane, though he becomes obsessed with the thought that he is being followed, watched, wired (the scene with him searching for the wires and destroying the apartment reminds us of Francis Ford Coppola`s The Conversation
); he commits suicide because he feels he has no way out of it.
Unfortunately, Tudor Giurgiu feels the need to add some episodes which are more “likeable” to the audience to the tough red line of the story. Either we`re talking about cliché solutions from the American films – the surprise party with his friends waiting for him in the dark to wishing him a noisy “Happy Birthday!” or the secret meeting taking place in the tier of the stadium shaken by the reactions of the ongoing match. Or it`s about the relationship with the student which ensures the compulsory sex scene necessary in the cheap films which towards the end puzzles the viewer: if it had been only an affair, why does Cristian call her before killing himself and (Oh, my!) why does he kiss the phone before throwing it over the balcony? Either he inserts forced moments of relaxation, like the one with Cristian playing in the grass with Dora and a dog that jumps in the scene. Or he uses cinematography tricks - the jogging scene, shot in ralenti and with the reversed image because of the reflection in a small puddle.
Unfortunately, the film doesn`t end with the terrace left deserted where the pigeons keep on eating some crumbs and where the curtain is moved by a wind blow. No, these are no symbols, this is exactly how things happen when we die: everything stays the same, only we disappear as if we had never been here. If would have been a sadder, heavier and more beautiful ending, than the redundant speech at the funeral.
P.S. I wouldn`t want to forget Emilian Oprea
, whose acting potential was well felt by Tudor Giurgiu! I wish him a warm welcome in the gallery of great actors that have been launched by the Romanian films these past 15 years.