Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Bacalaureat
Romania/France/Belgium, 2016. Canal+, Cine+, Eurimages, France 3 Cinema, France Televisions, Groupama Romania, Les Films Du Fleuve, Mobra Films, Orange, Romanian Film Board, Why Not Productions, Wild Bunch. Screenplay by Cristian Mungiu. Cinematography by Tudor Vladimir Panduru. Produced by Cristian Mungiu. Production Design by Simona Paduretu. Costume Design by Brandusa Ioan. Film Editing by Mircea Olteanu. Cannes Film Festival Awards 2016. National Society of Film Critics Awards 2017. Online Film Critics Awards 2016. Philadelphia Film Critics 2017. Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
Just before writing her final exams, Eliza is assaulted on the street by an unseen attacker; her father Romeo, a doctor who deals with his estranged marriage from his unhappy wife by trysting with a younger teacher in secret, is devastated by the event and determined that she get whatever she needs to score well on her tests. He regrets having settled in their backwater hamlet, a relic of the socialist days where all matters of bureaucracy are settled by favours and secret deals, and wants his daughter to attend university in England which she can do if she does well on her finals. Eliza is not that sure that she can perform under the circumstances, and given her love for her motorcycle repairman boyfriend isn’t all that sure she wants to leave for school; her father is determined, however, so calls upon his buddies to make things easier for her and, as a result, is asked to pull a few strings for them in return. What director Cristian Mungiu wants to say about a society that has left behind its socialist years without losing the corruption and cronyism that make local bureaucracy possible is explosively damning, but the manner with which he tells it barely registers above a hush. This film has a smooth, consistent rhythm that keeps your attention for more than two hours, aided greatly by an appealing performance by Adrian Titieni in the lead role. There is not a single scene that Titieni does not appear in and he manages the effort without ever straining under the weight of so heavy a film, ably supported by the superb supporting cast and Mungiu’s polished direction.