I’m compelled to call the Romanian drama One Floor Below a “one man show” since it features a solitary character (Sandu played by Teodor Corban) dealing with a possible murder he heard from outside an apartment, and how he handles confrontation with the alleged suspect. The camera is focused on him, and Corban does follow through with his end of the deal – he’s very believable.
However, once the plot is established, there’s not much for this man to show. After a while, it’s tiresome watching Corban react to things through an empty screenplay with a director who is far too comfortable running out the clock to shoot static activity.
On the topic of the cinematography, why did filmmaker Radu Muntean feel the need to centre every single action in One Floor Below? The distracting framing – which I can only assume was intentional – leaves open space around the characters; challenging movie goers not to visually wander out of curiosity. Every so often, a detail in the background inhabits the nothingness (a neighbour eyeballing the crime scene from their window was a nice touch), but this particular shooting style doesn’t bring anything to the table.
Corban is quite good, as is the rest of the cast supporting his performance, but the script (written by Alexandru Baciu, Razvan Radulescu, and Muntean) offers the barebones of tension. The screenwriters are under the assumption that the cast will be game to do the rest of their homework. Actors, however, need more meat to grasp onto in order to set a story in motion. Since he’s pulling double duty, it’s very clear Muntean is unaware of this rule.
The finished product – which is a shallow crawl through stoic behaviour – suggests everyone involved with the production needed more time to figure out what exactly they wanted to say with One Floor Below.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie