Radu Jude

7.0 The Happiest Girl in the World (2009)
6.8 A Film for Friends (2011)
7.0 Everybody In Our Family (2012)
7.3 Aferim (2015)
6.9 Scarred Hearts (2016)
7.2 I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (2018)
6.9 Uppercase Print (2020)
6.9 Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (2021)
7.3 Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World (2023)

Radu Jude (Romania, 1977) made a name for himself with the shorts Lampa cu Caciula/ The Tube with a Hat (2006), Dimineata/ In the Morning (2007) and Alexandra (2007).

Cea mai Fericita Fata din Lume/ The Happiest Girl in the World (2009)

Film Pentru Prieteni/ A Film for Friends (2011), filmed in a single take, is the rambling monologue of a man who is taping his last will and testament before killing himself.

The farce Toata Lumea din Familia Noastra/ Everybody In Our Family (2012)

shorts O Umbra de Nor/ Shadow of a Cloud (2013) and It Can Pass Through the Wall (2014),

He contributed the segment Trece si Prin Perete/ It Can Pass through the Wall to Scurt/4 Istorii de Inima Neagra/ Black Heart Tales (2014).

Aferim (2015), photographed by Marius Panduru, is a black-and-white period drama (with minimal montage) set in an anti-heroic brutish feudal era of slavery and superstition. The natural and human landscape of this film is not all too dissimilar from the anarchic lands of western movies, but it doesn't contain the moral lesson that usually framed the western and led to the happy ending. The story, that meanders from ugly action to ugly speech, is a sardonic meditation on the brutal instincts of humanity, devoid of any morality in the absence of a police state, reminiscent of Emir Kusturica's visceral black humor.

The land has been devastated by the plague and is mostly deserted. A limping constable, Costandin, and his teenage son Ionita are riding from village to village, searching for an escaped gypsy slave who stole money from the lord of the land. They harass the slaves of every place, starting with a monastery, to get information about the man's whereabouts. Along the way they help a priest whose cart has broken down. When they are done fixing it, the priest rewards them with a frenzied racist sermon against Jews, Turks and gypsies (gypsies are at least human, Jews are not). While crossing a woof, they stumble onto a coach that has been attacked by bandits. Its passengers are lying on the ground, all dead except one, who is still breathing, but the constable doesn't bother to stop and help him. While crossing a swamp, they meet a fishermen who is fishing down in the water to his chest and buy a fish, but the constable pays very little for it. They are stopped by the local constable who tells them to go back because this is no longer their lord's jurisdiction but a little bit of money gains them free passage and even a tip about where the slave is hiding. The owners of the farm don't cooperate but the constable and his son find first a gypsy child and then the gypsy slave that they want, Carfin. The whole village tries to stop them, not to save the slave but because they are taking a poor farmer's slave without paying. They also take the child, Tintiric. The boy rides with Ionita and tells harrowing stories, including some lord who buried a man alive. Carfin, meanwhile, protests his innocence: he did'n steal, he claims that the lord wants him dead because the lord's wife seduced him. The constable initially laughs at the claim, but then starts believing the slave because the lord's wife has a reputation for sleeping around, even giving birth to an illegitimate child. The region is under Ottoman occupation and every now and then they meet coaches carrying Turkish officials. The constable hates the Turks and either curses against them or sends them in the wrong direction. The child is beginning to feel at home with the two horsemen and begs the constable to take him to his home. The prisoner slave talks nonstop about the tough life of a slave. But the constable instead takes the child to a market and sells him to a priest who needs one for his church. In the market we see a puppet show in which a man kills his wife and then a priest, and we see a group of slaves begging people to buy them because they have nothing to eat. The constable Costandin takes both his son Ionita and the prisoner slave Carfin to a bar where he meets friends and boasts boasts about having been a mercenary and all the killing and raping that he did. He gets drunk, then orders a prostitute for himself and one for his son. That night, after singing and dancing with him, Ionita asks his father whether they can free the slave, but Constandin has no feelings: his job is to catch runaways, not to do charity. When they arrive at the lord's village, the other slaves curse Carfin: because of him, they have all been persecuted by the lord. Costandin finally shows some feelings for the slave and talks in person to the lady who seduced him. She is confined in a narrow room and beaten by the lord, who also wants to lock her up in a convent. She has no problem admitting her guilt (that she lured Carfin). When the lord finally shows up, Costandin is rewarded with money. Costandin asks in vain that the lord show mercy for the poor slave. The lord is indifferent to the fact that his wife has admitted seducing him and marches towards the terrified slave. The other slaves actually hold him down and help the lord met out his punishment. Costandin tries one more time to intervene but the lord has lost patience with him and slaps him in the face. Then the lord takes a dagger and sets out to castrate Carfin. The other slaves hold him down and one slave offers the lord a pair of pliers. Costandin walks Ionita away and tells him to behave like a man.

Inimi Cicatrizate/ Scarred Hearts (2016) is an adaptation of Max Blecher's novel.

Jude also directed the documentary The Dead Nation (2017).

The Brechtian black comedy Imi Este Indiferent Daca in Istorie vom Intra ca Barbari/ I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (2018) was a meditation on the revival of fascism and of anti-Semitism in Europe .

Uppercase Print (2020) is an adaptation of Gianina Carbunariu's stage play.

Babardeala cu Bucluc Sau Porno Balamuc/ Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (2021), photographed by Marius Panduru, is a surrealistic film-essay, a bit too chaotic, that uses a simple story as a pretext for a rambling philosophical discussion. The film mixes provocative porn scenes, documentary scenes of life in the city, and a montage of historical events, and ends with three possible endings. It is all done in a cartoonish and goliardic spirit.

The film opens with a hardcore porn scene in which Emi is having sex with Eugen in front of a camera: they are making a porn video for themselves. We then see Emi shopping at a vegetable market like any ordinary housewife and walking through the busy streets of the city (the camera lingers on details of the city, even a plant growing in the cracks of the sidewalk). She enters the house of her school's headmistress. Everybody is wearing masks during the covid pandemic. Emi is a teacher and she discusses with her school's headmistress the scandal: her erotic video has spread on the Internet and the parents want an urgent meeting. Emi explains that Eugen uploaded it to the Internet. We follow Emi again in the streets until she walks into a toy store, where she witnesses an argument between a poor lady who can't pay for the items she picked up and a lady who is waiting behind her to pay. Emi then walks back home and gets into an argument with an arrogant driver who has parked on the sidewalk and insults her when she complains. Then we follow her again through the busy and noisy streets. Her husband calls her that the video has been re-uploaded to the Internet by a blogger. The camera lingers on commercial and political posters and signs as she walks by them. Emi walks into a pharmacy and we listen to the discussions of the customers. She passes by an abandoned decaying building and the camera lingers on the dilapidated facade. She witnesses a heated argument between a pedestrian and a car driver. She stops to get a coffee in a fancy shopping gallery where young people are discussing history and politics. Then she walks again in the streets. The second part of the film opens with documentary footage of World War 2, colonialism, the 1989 revolution. We see a military parade, a skit about a blonde, a tour guide and her group in front of the presidential palace, the video of the dictator's last speech, snow while we read the legend of Athena, children singing a patriotic song in a square, etc. The rapid-fire montage includes a woman purchasing a fox fur, an abused child, an erotic magazine, a cartoon, genocides, news about a mind-reading implant, pictures of Nazi concentration camps, a cemetery, a woman performing fellatio on a man, close-ups of both female and male genitals, magazines covers about Mussolini, an old porn video, a man beating up a gypsy, etc. The montage ends with a mummy displayed in a casa. Subtitles complement the images with provocative philosophical thoughts. The third part of the film opens with the meeting at the school, held outdoors because of the pandemic. Emi is judged by the parents after they watched the video all together. The parents are outraged because all their children saw the video. Emi replies that parents should watch which websites the children access. The video doesn't show the face of the man, so some of the parents don't even believe that the man in the video is her husband. Some are disgusted by oral sex, even with a husband. She recites an erotic poem of Eminescu, Romania's national poet, that specifically refers to oral sex. Only one man, Marius, tries to defend her, with philosophical arguments. Surprisingly, the priest too says that she's innocent because she didn't upload the video. But the majority thinks that Emi lost her credibility with the children. During the debate the characters quote sociologists and psychologists at length. Then someone brings up the fact that Emi taught the children Romania's responsibility in the massacre of Jews during World War II. The parents accuse her of spreading "Jewish propaganda". Parents check their phones and find that the story has already spread to social media and news websites and lengthy articles are being written, including fake news that she works as a porn actress in other countries. The headmistress calls for a vote. The fourth part of the film consists in three possible endings. In the first ending the majority votes not to fire her and the losing minority walks away angry. One woman gets into a physical fight with Emi after Emi accuses her of having bribed the authorities to favor her child. In the second ending the majority votes to fire her and she quietly leaves. In the third ending the majority votes to fire her, she turns into a devil (wearing a Wonder Woman costume), throws a net that catches all the parents, and then forces a plastic penis in each of her accuser's mouth.

Nu Astepta prea Mult de la Sfarsitul Lumii/ Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World (2023), photographed by Marius Panduru, is many films into one. It is a day-in-a-life tragicomedy that follows an ordinary anti-heroine whose life consists of a mediocre routine. It is a road movie of sorts, with this protagonist constantly driving around her city, constantly chewing gum and playing loud music. It is a sort of "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" adapted to the age of online social media, with this protagonist turning into a sexist, racist and fascist man for the remote audience. There is literally a film within the film: Jude "samples" Lucian Bratu's movie Angela Merge mai Departe (1982) about a taxi driver, which initially looks like a parallel story. This movie shows life under communism while Jude's movie is set in a post-communist, Internet-obsessed, post-covid society. The viewer can't help comparing the two lifestyles: the simple, depressed, bleak but down to earth lifestyle of the 1980s with the artifical, greedy and lonely lifestyle of the 2020s. The script includes trivia about Goethe, the Lumieres and others, and countless funny stories, each of which can be read as an allegory for life in the age of the Internet. The script revolves around the making of a film, and that film turns out to be the ultimate corporate scam, but nobody tries to rebel. The script is not only a satire of evil corporations but also of the soulless individuals who go along with corporate scams. In the end, this is a fresco of uniform indifference to human tragedy.

The film opens in black and white as a young blond, Angela, wakes up and drives to work in busy city traffic. Meanwhile we see (in color, and occasionally in slow motion) a female taxi driver starting her day on a car of communist times. Angela reaches her destination: she's supposed to interview a worker who got injured on the job but he left to go fishing so the interview takes place over a computer. The wife tells Angela that they hope the interview will be accepted by the production company because they need the money to pay for heating. And meanwhile a moustached and bearded man called Bobita makes short videos with his smartphone from different parts of the city about the silliest of topics. Angela picks up her mother and talks on the phone with her boss, who sends her to interview another injured worker. Angela complains that she's overworked and exploited. Her boss replies that he too can barely sleep. Angela and her mother visit a tomb at the cemetery. The mother mentions that Angela is making silly vulgar videos, and we realize that Bobita is her male and punk alter-ego. Then Angela is on the road again. She visits a woman on a wheelchair, another worker who got injured, also eager to get accepted and be paid. Then she's on the road again, harassed by a male driver for her driving. She visits the lawyer of a corporation and we learn that the corpses of her mother's parents must be exhumated and reburied because the cemetery was illegally expanded to land owned by someone else who now wants to build nice apartments. Outside the office she makes a truly obscene Bobita video. She falls asleep at a traffic light and stops to eat a sandwich. We see (in color) the female taxi driver having a sandwich too, which makes it feel like it's happening at the same time except that the place looks from another era. The taxi driver, instead, goes home. Angela resumes her driving. Angela interviews another injured worker and meets his mother, whose name is also Angela, who used to be a taxi driver and proceeds to tell the story of her life, and we realize that the scenes in color about the taxi driver are actually flashbacks of the life of this Angela when she was young, now an old woman. This other Angela, now a crippled pensioner, tells the story of how she met her husband Gyuri, an ethnic Hungarian who fell asleep in the backseat of her carm, and who has become an alcoholic after a series of disadventures. Angela interviews their son Ovidiu, also bound to a wheelchair: he has sued the factory but is willing to make a video in which he says that it was his own fault because the video is paid by the factory. Little by little we learn that her production company is preparing a documentary about workplace safety for some Austrian corporation (owner of the factory) in which these injured workers are showed as evidence of what happens when workers don't follow safety rules (basically, blaming the victims and warning the other workers). Then she's on the road again. She books a restaurant, the whole restaurant, for the visiting Austrians (and makes an outrageous Bobita video from its bathroom). We see a flashback (in color) to Angela the taxi driver in communist times when a chef flirted with her. Back to modern Angela, she interviews another worker who has been crippled and then heads home to take a nap. Another flashback in color (and in slow motion) shows life in the city during communist times, when there were few cars around. Back to modern times, modern Angela is stuck in traffic. She meets a German filmmaker on his set and even convinces him to make a vulgar Bobita video with her. Other flashbacks show episodes in the life of Angela the taxi driver back in her time. We then see a remote meeting of Angela's team with executive Doris in Austria who is checking the progress of the documentary. We see the director: Tiberiu. During the day Angela keeps making videos as Bobita. Angela picks up pensioner Angela, her invalid son Ovidiu and her sister Rodica. She picks up her lover and they make frantic love in her car. He dirties her dressed with his sperm and she has no time to clean it because she has to rush to the airport to pick up executive Doris. We see more episodes from Angela's and Gyuri's story in the 1980s. As Angela drives Doris to the shooting, she talks about the many people who lost their lives on the roads, and then we see a lengthy series of silent close-ups of crosses planted along the roads to mark the place where someone died. During the ride, Angela and Doris discuss Romania, the poorest country in the European Union, and Doris avoids questions about her corporation's responsibilities. In the car Doris asks to listen to frenzied "manele" gypsy music and marvels at Ceaesescu's colossal palace. Angela then drives alone to the location where Tiberiu is filming Ovidiu telling his story. (This is a single uninterrupted 35-minute shot). Ovidiu's story is brief, but the shooting has to be repeated over and over again, each time to omit a detail or improve the background. After the first cut, a long break follows during which the team discusses Ovidiu's words. It is obvious that they want to remove anything that shows the corporation's responsibility for Ovidiu's injury and to add something that incriminates Ovidiu for his own injury. Ovidiu's sister Rodica realizes this and objects. Tiberius the director whispers that they should be careful. He then refuses when his boss asks him to remove any compromising statement. Tiberius insists that he will deliver Ovidiu's testimony as it is, and then the corporation can edit it if they want. Ovidiu's mom Angela mentions that they need the money offered by the corporation for making this video, and so the shooting continues with Ovidiu accepting to tailor his story so the corporation doesn't look bad. During the break we hear Angela making a Bobita video, but we don't see her. She then appears to tell an allegorical story about an officer who was accusing of theft when he stole the bullets used by his execution squad: his defense was that the executed men didn't want to receive the bullets and therefore the bullets still belonged to his execution squad. Later we see Angela making another Bobita video. The last scene that they shoot is a scene in which Ovidiu holds one after the other a series of blank signs. There is nothing written on them. Tiberius tells them that the corporation will edit the scene with a computer to write something on each sign. Rodica again is the only one to object, fearing what they are going to write, but someone from the corporation makes a vague promise that they won't write anything bad about Ovidiu. Rodica is not convinced but the corporation offers to take them to dinner and the conversation turns into dinner.
(Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )