The Stories of One Night: „Bucharest NonStop” – film review
by Magda Mihăilescu
Dan Chișu won`t give up. The cinema takes him to different directions, He goes there, tries them, gives them up, then returns to the first ones. When you think he`s all settled in, here he goes again. There is a sort of restlessness in this independent artist`s love for film and accordingly, his trajectory is somewhat jagged. No wonder it seems really hard to tell what kind of a film director he is. After five titles, he is still searching and in consequence, he still takes us by surprise.
After the youngish debut with WebSiteStory , which had the reality of the internet as its background, he leaves the exciting experiment area and settles, not without difficulties, in the classical narration one, taking somewhat oldish steps with The Bear (Ursul). He is not pleased and it`s good he is not and he starts searching again, he learns better how to connect the clues of a story, then he brings forth Chasing Rainbows (Și caii sunt verzi pe pereți), then the temptation of experimenting on digital beats about again.
He accepts the “formal corsage” forced by the POV exclusive shooting style in Déja vu only to find it again, more determined than ever not to let go of the narrative of small lives which we don`t know when they meet each other in the daily routine.
The four stories that we can separate in Bucharest NonStop (București NonStop) are not what we can call “crossed stories”, they don`t all flow towards the same river in the end. We could say they intersect somehow. The space that shelters them is the same: a block of flats where some of the characters go out from, another one wants to go in, others are almost hostages; next to it there is a small square with a Nonstop kiosk, with its neon letters blinking in the night, the night of the action, just like an eye that saw many things.
Each of the characters that come and go then come back, left some money to the small kiosk keeper, Achim (Gheorghe Ifrim), with his daily putting on an act, sometimes grumpy, sometimes suspicious or mean (the man really has to do something to pass the time), who is in fact a kind-hearted man. They left not only some small coins, but also a bit from their life, thing that can be noticed or guessed from one visit to the other. The hooker with the irresistible Moldavian accent (the always charming Olimpia Melinte), who is deterred from going to see her child again by an urgent phone call asking her to come to work, probably lives one of her worst nights. Beaten by her pimp, without any money, supported by the taxy driver who was supposed to take her to the train station, will be helped in the end by our kiosk man as well.
What keeps the sloppiness, the sentimentality away from this kind of relationships is the sense of the psychological tone which sets the ostentatiously imposed construction from the human side of the person asked to deal with a dramatic situation. The kiosk keeper is no angel that the poor woman comes across and the taxi driver either. It is not easy for them to decide, they have their own problems, but when they realize she is in deep trouble, they don`t hesitate anymore. Ifrim and Smoleanu are the ideal messengers of this humanity. You can easily tell that at his fifth film, Dan Chișu knows how to articulate, without hesitations, the above mentioned crossing of the stories. With one exception (which is fully justified), he doesn`t insist upon a certain tone, he doesn`t let a story settle in comfortably; he just leaves it to return to another one and thus the result is the alternation between drama and comedy effects. The connection between outside and inside is given to a loser lover, whose girlfriend, Dora (Maria Obretin), doesn`t want to have anything to do with him anymore: she won`t open the door, or answer the phone and she is not impressed by the pebbles the man throws onto her window, as a message. Maybe she would give in a bit, but her two friends make her feel confused, one saying “yes” and the other one saying a bitter “no”. The tough one (Lia Bugnar) is totally against him, the impressionable goody-goody one (Ilinca Manolache) wants peace, while Dora is a real weakling. Her dark faced boyfriend (Toma Cuzin), whose tanned skin makes the kiosk owner wonder, keeps him company the most, begging him to help him make a phone call, just one, to Dora, because is mobile is dead. The woman`s hostility keeps the character in action, meant to be a sort of companion, a funny dialogue partner; if it weren`t for him, the kiosk man wouldn`t have the opportunity to make himself be seen, dramaturgically speaking. Their exchange of words around the wanted mobile phone, where they mix numbers and tenderly evokes mothers and racial origins, is very colorful. The two knaves (Alexandru Papadopol and Dorian Boguță), who master very well the causing of profitable accidents (until they come to a stiff end) come and go solve their things. The hope is the tanned guy who mistakes the windows when throwing the pebbles, one of them hitting one window of the apartment of an old couple. And thus, the viewer enters the house that belongs to Mrs.Antoniu “who feeds the stray dogs” and of her husband (“who doesn`t know him?” – says Achim), entering one of the film stories which is the most circular, well controlled and touching. The hassling of the two, who have their tongues well oiled, who grew old together, through the good ones and the bad ones, just like Filemon and Baucis, remake a past which had been visibly crossed by a strong affection, but also by all kinds of trials from jealousy to their not being able to have a child. Hardly moving from his bed, where he is forced to lie down, he (Ion Besoiu), doesn`t give up his cockish attitude and status, although his life partner (Dorina Lazăr), who is still active, knows how to give him the rough side of her tongue. I was thinking what a great “longer” film with the two great actors would be…It is enough to watch them, to see the sparkle in their eyes, the moves that try to beat the pain in the old bones and you get to have the image of what life has implacably in store for everyone. The film ends with the woman`s quiet death. Each of the characters went to their homes, Dora finally opens the door to her boyfriend. Nobody would have anything more to do or to say. Besides death, nothing else exists. Sometimes not even the so called complex, profound films don`t know how to keep silent in front of death, the way this Bucharest Nonstop does, in its simplicity.
Imagine: Dan Țuculescu