Sunday, August 9, 2009

Silent Wedding: no laughing matter

Melbourne International Film Festival 2009

Silent Wedding (Nunta muta) is three films in one. A search for the para-normal. A romantic comedy. A political drama. It’s one too many.

There are many truly comic moments in its village that at times feels like sixteenth century rural Europe. The peasants are struggling to come to terms with the realities of Stalinist Romania in 1953. They treat their small local party cadre with ridicule. The modern day ruins of the giant factory are the legacy of this clash with brutal authoritarianism.

The characters and settings are pure Bruegel. Mara (Meda Andreea Victor) and Iancu (Alexandru Potocean) are a courting couple full of the joy and pleasures of youth. Their feuding families are finally united when a wedding is planned. Three upcoming events determine the date of the celebration and set their fate.

Firstly, the circus is coming. Coincidentally Iancu’s best friend is a dwarf, a seemingly essential element in stories of the supernatural. Secondly, the communist party has arranged a propaganda film night, a challenge in a place without electricity. Finally, Lent is approaching, with its deep significance for these religious people.

Silent Wedding has lots of entertaining and funny parts. There is a very effective three Stooges slapstick routine, a very difficult task at any time. The silent wedding scene is very amusing for the most part. Unfortunately, like the movie itself, it is too long with just too many visual gags and unnecessary detail.

The modern day TV crew’s search for a para-normal story could easily have been omitted to tighten up this production. The supernatural elements could also have been left out.

The unfolding tragedy is apparently based on a true story. If so it doesn't quite do its subject complete justice.

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