Romanian Gothic, Romanian Joy

Last night felt surreal for a few hours. Before me and my friends settled in the smoke-infested joint that has become our second home, we experienced Romanian Gothic and Romanian Joy in rapid succession.

We kicked off the night with a movie. We thought Romanian cinema might need a few extra lei so we decided to go see Margo, a movie we knew would feature women kissing women, women being redeemed from prostitution, old-fashioned abuse, heavy drinking and other celluloid clichés that make European movies so heavy and pretentious. Margo is easily one of the worst Romanian movies I have seen. Actually it’s so bad it would occupy two places on my Top 5 Worst Romanian Movies list (I saw “High Fidelity” again so I’m back in list mode).

MargoMargo is like metaphor-crammed closet. You have the big breasts of women, who can command anyone’s attention, but they are actually filled with loneliness and they weep. Yes, the tragedy of the modern Romanian woman who can’t find a man unless she trips herself and drops a tit on his nose (excuse the vulgar language, but life is a vulgar beast). Then you have your central character, a whore.

“Yes, I’m a whore,” Margo says matter of factly a few times as if trying to convince the audience their kids should consider it as a career. After all, a whore makes good money and lives in nice apartments. She also owns expensive clothes (and horrid fashion sens). She is taken care off and who needs more than that, right? As in any self-respecting EuroMovie her pimp is actually her father. No!!! I didn’t see that one coming!!!

But she is a whore with a kind soul (even gays have a kind souls in this movie) and a steady hand because she spends much movie time with a camera in her hand videotaping life. Yes, she sucks in the life around her. The children in the park. The trees. The fields. The friends. The old ladies on the forgotten train. She videotapes them all to cure the solitude and the darkness of her rotting soul. Not to mention the pleasure the director seems to take from interspersing amateur images among his professional takes.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, the movie suddenly switches to the country side–a deserted unreachable village hidden in the mountains. That is Margo’s birthplace and she returns home for her mother’s funeral. Much drama and drinking ensues. The shrieks, yells and bucolic imageries are pathetic. Of course there is a tree growing through the roof of the house to illustrate deep and penetrating ties to the land. Of course the priest gets wasted and starts dancing. Of course the mayor is curious about the clitoris–after all, the clitoris is a staple of Romanian funerals. Has anyone ever been to a funeral where the clitoris has not been discussed?

Margo is the kind of movie that will show you heaps of trash to illustrate how gloomy and shitty both our inner and outer (Romanian) lives are. How dirty and smelly and rotten we are. I hate film makers who get off on their own soul-crunching ability to notice misery (anyone remember “Wild Dogs“?) and their oh so subtle ways to shove it down our throats. Excuse me while I puke.

This movie isn’t held together by any kind of narrative string. Urban misery meets rural misery. Rural Gothic meets City Depravity. Girl meets a Boy she doesn’t like but because she was a hooker in her lifetime, she should be so lucky to at least get the fat loser. Because, as the movie all so wisely informs the public: “If you have to find happiness in shit, you’ll find happiness in shit.” There are no alternatives to shit.

We paid almost $2 a head to watch such junk. I expect Ioan Carmazan, the director-guru of this flick to call and offer me the money back.

What’s the best thing to do after watching Margo in Targu-Mures? The best thing to do is to get into a car and drive to a gardening and tools store (Praktiker, a store for the practical people) and attend its grand opening concert featuring poppy bands like Vank and Vama (until recently Vama Veche).

Drinking cheap draft beer in the parking lot of a big box retailer is almost touching. We got there just as Vank were ruining some of their perfectly decent sing alongs (yes, I own a best of Vank record) and stayed long enough to watch the set of Vama, which is what’s left from Vama Veche, one of Romania’s biggest bands in the past decade. Vama Veche announced their official split earlier this week and this was Vama’s first concert, complete with a stunningly drunk lead singer in Tudor Chirila.

What a historic moment. I was clutching a plastic cup of Ciuc in my hand and staring at the 16-year old boys in front of me who were jumping and yelling. I left Romanian Gothic behind and here I was in the unpretentious embrace of Romanian Joy. I was drinking beer in the parking lot of a giant store that proves people in my town do have money. I watched the corny fireworks and even mumbled the lyrics to some of the songs, all without the employing the same kind of condescension dumped on me by Margo.

It was one of those Friday nights in Targu Mures where little seems to make sense. But at 2 AM, when Big Papa is the only decent fast food place open downtown and Geo curses the fact that his pants keep getting caught underneath his sneakers, who cares?

6 Responses to “Romanian Gothic, Romanian Joy”

  1. I need to know more about how the clitoris fit into the funeral scenes.

  2. campulungeanu' Says:

    vama veche a venit si in clung la zilele orasului. inainte de despartire . dar a cantat doar veche fiindca vama- tudor adica, era atat de beat incat nici nu s-a suit pe scena. a luat teapa tipul. inainte, cand era cu baietii isi permitea sa bea pana cadea sub masa. acum tre’ sa presteze indiferent de conditii

  3. top five records 🙂 i watched the movie again maybe four days ago and it’s had a similar list frenzy effect on me, though a brief one. lists don’t sit so well with me, though i try.

    anyway… question. did you not see the trailer for Margo? did the trailer not summ things up? you must have known before going into the theater that Margo would suck (pun intended). so why do it? :)) there’s a batch of good Romanian movies hitting cinemas over the next two weeks, support good Romanian cinematography 🙂

  4. Sure to be an instant classic, I’ve added Margo to my “to download” list thanks to your expert guidance. The only question is: can it possibly be any worse than Million Dollar Baby?

  5. I haven’t had the pleasure of the Million Dollar Baby yet, but I can tell you Margo was worse than Inspector Gadget, the only movie I ever walked out off voluntarily. And I am someone who likes all movies, from the Scary Movies to the pretentious film-school-hand-held-self-absorbed productions.

  6. Desi am evitat pe cat posibil sa ma duc sa vad Margo (au filmele romanesti “bunul” obicei de a fi foooarte deprimante), acum sunt de-a dreptul curioasa. Cam cat de prost poate fi un film?????

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