Sadly, I think many people misunderstand this film. Yes, it does show the story of a troubled teenage prisoner in a penitentiary, but I see this film more as a youth's highly charged personal drama. And by "drama" I mean it in the real sense of the word: an examination of grisly and raw emotions.
Gut- wrenching! So far my favorite of the Romanian New Wave films that I've seen. Watching this felt like I got hit with a sledgehammer. As noted by others, I acknowledge the freedom/death political subtext, but it shines because the main character's love towards his younger brother reveals the resilience and self-sacrifice of what it truly takes to remain human despite all the wretchedness.
Interesting meditation on the death that exists within freedom. Best to be looked at in terms of Communism in Romania and Ceausescu's rule. The way the main characters speaks with his eyes and the way they are captured on film is amazing; minimalist dialogue well suited. Quite inspired to watch more Romanian New Wave cinema!
The tonal shift of the film from one of bleak naturalism to heightened drama feels written, where most of the other elements of the film are so plaintive as to rise to a level of expressive bleakness. The film returns to that tone at the end, which is welcome. Well acted, nicely shot, and quite far from bad.
I typically don't give movies 5 stars but Mubi doesn't allow a 4.5 rating and I figure this film deserves me rounding up to 5. I've only had a subscription to Mubi for a little over a month and this is, so far, my favorite film I've seen so far. I will be seeking out director Florin Serban's other films ASAP
Nice performance from the lead, everyone else was fine but no stand-outs. The film started out pretty interesting, getting a chance to see what minimum-security in Romania is like, but it didn't add up to much in the end. Loads of long shots of characters staring off into the middle-distance, which felt more like padding the running time than the filmmakers revealing anything important about the characters.