Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn (2021)

RADU JUDE

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

Original Title: Babardeala cu bucluc sau porno balamuc

/////, 2021. , , , , , , , , , , , . Screenplay by Radu Jude. Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by , . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Oh how refreshing it is to be in the presence of a true misanthrope, wiping away the sour taste of sincerity and performative humanism that so many directors bring to their uplifting artistic experiences, and instead going on a rant about how this entire planet would be better off without the plague that is humanity; we can’t expect Paul Verhoeven to do all the heavy lifting all the time.

We begin with a bracingly graphic sex tape, five minutes of unhinged action that turns out to be the private indulgence of a married couple which was uploaded to the internet without wife Emi’s knowledge, possibly done by her husband, possibly by the guys at the computer store where he took his laptop for repair. The event has caused a firestorm of controversy at the prestigious Bucharest middle school where Emi teaches, the children have viewed the tape and the parents are up in arms about it.

For the film’s first act, Emi spends her day knocking off a few errands around the city before heading to the inevitable town hall meeting that will determine her fate. Before we get there, however, the middle section sees director Radu Jude switch to a Melville-esque, taxonomical investigation of the cultural context of Emi’s situation, indexed terms related to Romanian history and politics, displaying how interrelations both diplomatic and sexual have been affected by wars, revolutions, the questionably successful transfer of power from communism to capitalism and, eventually, the Covid-19 pandemic, with commentary accompanying the images that is always steeped in devilish irony.

The tension that the pandemic has caused in this particular society, which includes a scene where it actually seems that an extra swears at Jude’s camera, is everywhere that Emi goes, whether at the pharmacy or on the sidewalk, and the temperature is only that much more explosive when she reaches her eventual destination. The debate between teacher and parents takes up the final act of the film, a brilliantly written and performed diatribe on hypocrisy that sees Emi having to defend herself against charges of immorality despite the fact that she has done nothing immoral and it was her privacy that was violated against her will. As one parent after another begins to spout racist conspiracy theories and ignorant assumptions about sexual morality, they reveal more about their own failures as humans than they do about her own supposedly corrupt behaviour.

This film is galvanizing, sometimes truly troubling, but told with a great deal of sharp, mordant humour that makes Jude the first director to criticize themes of social media and technology without seeming, as was the case with Happy End and The Square, like a bitter old man delivering a lecture.

European Film Award Nominations: Best European Director (Radu Jude); Best European Screenwriter

Berlin Film Festival Award: Golden Bear

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