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MONSTERS. (2019, RUM) – 6.5/10


The monsters of the title of Marius Olteanu’s debut feature film are Dana (Judith State) and Arthur (Christian Popa), a couple between whom the story has apparently ended. This “monster” should not, of course, be taken literally, and this interestingly structured naturalistic, somehow cold almost observational drama was divided by Olteanu into three chapters. In the first part, we follow the story from Dana’s perspective, and in the second from Arthur’s, and in those parts the picture seems to be cut in half and placed in the middle of the screen. In the third and final part, when we see the story from their shared perspective, the picture expands to the entire screen, and by then it is somewhat clear to us what broke up between them, even though in the first two segments we follow the same 24 hours of their lives.

Thus, in the beginning, we see a young woman who seems dissatisfied and unhappy, crying in the public toilet of the Bucharest railway station, and then takes a taxi and talks to the taxi driver (Alexandru Potocean). She doesn’t want to go home, but asks a taxi driver to drive her around the city all night and it seems completely mysterious in those moments. The mosaic will start to come together in the second part when we see Arthur’s rather shocking side of the story and find out what he was doing during that time. He was “Monster.” an interesting and subtle character study that stylistically fully fits into the standards of modern Romanian cinema, and after a while the viewer begins to wonder what keeps them together.

Both of them actually ask themselves that question all the time, but it’s as if they don’t dare to take that drastic step, part ways and go their separate ways. They don’t even have children, the only thing that still binds them together is their shared apartment, and maybe the realization that they can’t explain themselves to the people around them who see them as an ideal couple has influenced the fact that they never say it’s over. In an interesting way, Oltreanu plays with the chronology of events and leaves it to the viewer to try to sort out when something happened. It is a film that deals with the themes of environmental pressure and compromises that many agree to by giving in to the routine and doing what is expected of you even though it may not be what you want. This interesting and unusual drama premiered in Berlin, and they had “Monsters.” and nine nominations in the selection for the Romanian film of the year, but the only award went to State for the leading actress.