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UNIDENTIFIED (2020, RUM) – 8/10

Florin (Bogdan Farcas) is a police inspector on the edge. This is clear to us from the opening scene in which he begs and begs his superior to leave the investigation of the arson of two hotels to him, during which two people died. The camera is constantly on that unshaven, sweaty, nervous and desperate policeman who is obviously up to his neck in debt, and one can guess that his private life is in shambles. He reminds a bit of Nicolas Cage’s character in Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” and he seems like he’s really good at his job, but he’s dangerously off track. By the end, we will understand that Florin is stuck much deeper than we could even imagine, and this striking and shocking combination of thriller and drama by Bogdan George Apetri turned out to be a real surprise.

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Although “Unidentified” is actually a genre film, stylistically and thematically it fits into the Romanian new wave, because it problematizes the work of the local police, which has often been the subject of films there before. And it is not a typical Romanian problem, there are corrupt or simply lazy, disinterested police officers all over the world. Already in the opening scene, we are left quite shocked because the head of the provincial police station (Vasile Muraru) does not seem too excited and worried that the arson case has not been solved, and the inspector to whom he assigned the case has gone on vacation. He throws chauvinistic and sexist, the most primitive excuses while Florin begs him to leave the case to him, and even though the boss will not accept his request, he will still throw himself into the investigation for initially completely incomprehensible reasons.

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By the end of this naturalistic thriller, we will understand why, and Florin will immediately find the illiterate and frightened local Roma Banel as a suspect. Using the example of the relationship between the investigator and this poor man, we will understand how lost Florin really is, and everything that will happen later leads to a shocking climax at the end and an even more shocking final epilogue. It is a film in which the motivation of the main protagonist is slowly revealed and although it is clear to us from the beginning that this is a man in serious trouble who has turned his life into complete chaos, in the next two or three days, his behavior will escalate to the end. For a reason, Farcas was awarded the best Romanian actor of the year because he carries this whole exciting and extremely tense thriller with energy and conviction.

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