Mungiu is a master of the long, talky slow burn, and if R.M.N. often feels less focused and more sprawling than some of his earlier movies (“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” “Graduation”), that’s a testament to its expansiveness and ambition. The story becomes increasingly gripping as it meanders and lingers, broadens and deepens, putting peripheral characters into play and bringing latent hostilities to the surface.
Pulling harder and harder at the tension between complex socioeconomic forces and the simple human emotions they inspire, R.M.N. masterfully spins an all too familiar migration narrative into an atavistic passion play about the antagonistic effects of globalization on the European Union.
With bleak serenity of a man who has peered into the abyss and responded with a smile, the filmmaker offers no answer or easy way out to the intractable, and perhaps foundational, human capacity for hate than with his own virtuosic talent.
The power of Mungiu’s work is his writing. Like much of Eastern European cinema of the past decade, he’s crafted a morality tale that should prompt a viewer to take a look at themselves in the mirror wherever they may live. And if it ends without any hint of resolution? With barely a glimmer of hope? So be it.
RMN is a sombre downbeat movie, whose sudden flurry of dreamlike visions at the very end is a little disconcerting. But it is seriously engaged with the dysfunction and unhappiness in Europe that goes unreported and unacknowledged.
Why Not Productions,
France 3 Cinéma,
Film i Väst,
Les Films du Fleuve,
Centrul National al Cinematografiei (CNC),
MEDIA Programme of the European Union