If you’re like us, you’re used to Romanian movies being dark, verbally violent, poorly acted, poorly directed, wanting to shock, yet saying nothing.
But there are some wonderful exceptions, and we promise you won’t be disappointed.
So here’s our list of Best Romanian Movies and Shows To Watch At Home right now.
Starting off with Filantropica (2002)This is one of the best movies you will ever see. Not only it makes you laugh, but it makes you think. But it isn't a comedy at all. It's a DRAMA. A drama of the common Romanian people in Romania's transition period after the revolution in '89.The story is well put together and the acting quite impressive - gives you a strong real-life impression. A school teacher needs money so he can be around the sister of one of his trouble-making students. And when he’s presented with the opportunity of leading a double life, as a beggar at night, he accepts it. But the easy gains are not without risk, as soon Ovidiu will find out.
Next off, Aferim! (2015)"Aferim!" means "Excellent!" as a Turkish exclamation (recalling that Wallachia at the time was a vassal to the Ottoman Empire - when the constable sends a Turkish carriage the wrong way to spite the Turks, this is how his son praises him. So the title perfectly describes the film in one word - a tale of a time when the ignorant hated everyone else, not realizing how similar they were.
The merit of Radu Jude is to avoid any excuse or sweetening of the historical facts, while telling a coherent story and creating characters who are not only credible but also memorable. He carefully builds the atmosphere, habits, language of the time in a well-documented manner.
A lot of people missed this masterpiece because there are not many platforms you can find it on, but currently, you are able to watch "Aferim!" streaming on Kanopy. It is also possible to buy or rent "Aferim!" on Apple iTunes.
The title says shows, plural. But this is the only Romanian show we will recommend. And recommend we will.
Shadows (Umbre)The story follows a cab driver, who works as a debt collector for a local gangster and, of course, things get complicated rather quickly.
The main character is Relu, a money collector working for a local mobster. Along with the other characters, they do a great job introducing us in the atmosphere of crime life in Romania, which, I might add, is very different to the point where it cannot be compared with the one in America. The harsh language is present here, as it is in foreign films. The fighting is often done with unconventional weapons such as a hat-stand or some car keys, this spontaneity of the characters in their actions adding more realism to the story. You won't see clichés such as big guns or explosions but you will still be entertained, we assure you. You can watch all seasons of this wonderful series on HBO go.
Asphalt Tango (1996)A time of change of course, but also and mostly a time of confusion. Woken up from the sleep of the dictatorship and repression, many of the younger people found the solution in leaving Romania, and the story of this film traces the road from Bucharest to the Western border of Romania of such a group of young women who signed up for a contract as striptease dancers and entertainers in France.
The director did a great job of showing all the different sides of the main characters, the way they are changed by the efforts they are making to integrate a new way of life, an always-changing-never-working economical system. Some characters just cannot accept the new realities and remain the same, others become jackals looking for new prey.
One of the few examples of Romanian movies that doesn't leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth after you’re done watching it. It’s a comedy after all.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)The film takes place during the final years of Ceausescu's communist regime in Rumania and it centers on a college student named as she begins to make plans in order to help her roommate, [SPOILERS AHEAD] have an abortion. You find out about the abortion about 20 minutes into the movie, or 10 seconds into any trailers. The communist regime doesn't allow birth control nor abortion, so they have to do things quietly and secretly.
It is not just about abortion. It is also a strong and powerful statement of friendship and what it truly means. There is no way that Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) is a "fair-weather" friend. She experienced the same pain as her friend. She was there for her.
The atmosphere is recreated in the smallest details. Even the bottles of milk are the same they were 30 years ago. The director is not a judge, he just presents facts through the eyes of different persons, as he recreates the everyday life of people. This film is not a film to hate. It is a film to see with your heart open, with your soul free of any ideas. It is a film of making peace with the past and with ourselves.
The Rest Is Silence (2007)Nae Caranfil manages to capture the 1911 Bucharest atmosphere very accurately. An old civilized world, without vulgar language and gratuitous violence, a time when honor and social statute were extremely important, a time when falling in disgrace of a member took the whole family down with it. Romanian belle epoque is fantastic (since that time, beginning of the XX century, Bucharest was named 'Little Paris', due to many resemblances to the original city), the acting is impeccable and scenario is well-paced, humorous and inventive.
The story is the making off of the Independence War that Romania, along with Russia took part against Ottoman Empire in period 1877 - 1878. A must-see picture. Also, a world on the dawn of a new era, when corruption started to spread and con-artists began to thrive.
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