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Film Critics Association 2015 Award for Best Film Journalism

An excellent exercise: „There is Nothing in This World”

    Without any doubt, Andreea Vălean`s film is an exercise that prepares her for her debut in feature film, which would be great not to keep us waiting for too long. Though her first love is the theatre – she is a director, she wrote theatre plays and she was part of the DramAcum project – her connection to the cinema is not at all insignificant. Until now, only as a screenwriter (for the short films 17 Minutes Late and Traffic and for the feature film The Way I Spent the End of the World). But she felt the urge to also start directing films some time ago, in 2011, when she was Adrian Sitaru`s assistant director for Best Intentions. Now the dice are rolled and the first short film written, directed and produced by her was not unnoticed; it received: the ”Ovidiu Bose Paştina” Award at the Anonimul FestivalSpecial Mention of the Jury at the INDIE Festival of the independent filmmakers (IPIFF) and one nomination at the 2016 GOPO Awards for the best short film category.
     There Is Nothing in this World is not only an exercise and not only a funny short film, as it may be received at first glance. Two very good friends - that haven`t seen each other for three years - meet again; one of them grew very resentful in the meantime, so their getting together again started with making the sparks fly;. Radu, the new-fashioned bartender, with his pockets full of Euros, with connections with the underground world, who enjoys listening to “manele” (“the manele are like jerking off, everybody says they don`t listen to them, but actually…”) and who stopped believing in “art” and wants to turn his bar into a casino, has a lot to call down on his friend, Alin, who is a peaceful family man, specialized in advertising, but with a “tiny” weakness – he loves gambling, which got him broke and chased down because of his debts.
He can`t forgive him for having forgotten their childhood when they thought to be musketeers and their teenage years when they smoked their first cigarette and especially for not having invited him to his wedding (“Tell me, what if I came to your wedding? Were you afraid I`d have shaken my belly, or what?”) The frustration turns into anger. The bartender takes it out on his friend and wants to humiliate “the artist” who went to the “Caragiale” high school instead of joining him at the Metallurgy school. It`s just that “the artist” will have the final say in the end.
     Andreea Vălean builds her story following the classical principle of complementarity. Radu has a sanguineous temperament, he is an extrovert who likes to enjoy life, singing, dancing, having a drink or more. But deep down he is very sensitive, he has a tender heart – he totally melts down when he finds out that Alin`s little son bears his own name (“You can call him Ducu if you want, you know I don`t mind.”). Alin is a contained, introvert man, who resignedly and with a bit of sadness accepts the position of a boxing punch bag that Radu places him into, with his avalanche of slaps, cries and invectives, which doesn`t make him love his friend less. Radu is the histrionic type, he enjoys showing off, Alin is the almost silent spectator that he needs. But the unexpected final point comes when the “mute” Alin left the “talkative” Radu open-mouthed.
     The two actors that perform in the bar, the only location – Alexandru Potocean and Conrad Mericoffer – are excellent choices.  Potocean simply invades the frame, the camera follows him and sometimes you have the feeling that it can`t keep up with him. While Mericoffer uncomplainingly watches him, sitting in an armchair or leaning against the wall, as if the other one`s energy would have stuck him there. Only the heart of the conflict is cut out in a tense space-counter space, giving equal importance to both of them. The steady hand of the director who is at her debut leads it flawlessly in this short film which seems to have been sliced out from real life, where the loose language and the “worldly” music (Romica Puceanu`s song that gives the title of the film is superb) fit in perfectly.
There Is Nothing in this World is the birth certificate of a film director.

Tags: alexandru potocean, andreea valean, conrad mericoffer, nu exista-n lumea asta film, there is nothing in this world film review