Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World

Let’s start with the title: Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World. Writer/director Radu Jude sets the stage with that seemingly pessimistic branding. However, as the film works down from that title, the audience experiences a different interpretation. While that phrase may be a downbeat premonition, it’s a reminder of how being satisfied with your wellbeing is crucial in a disappointing time that never seems to stop “going”. Basically, it’s an acid-tongued version of the much more nuanced Perfect Days.

Angela (Ilinca Manolache) rarely finds time to rest while on her latest assignment. As a production assistant, she’s asked to gather testimonials from people with various disabilities for a workplace safety video. Her employer will decide who is the “most deserving” participant, while also considering which chosen volunteer will be the most diverse. The audience is attached to Angela’s hip throughout her busy day in Bucharest, which means we also endure the monotony of commuting between each stop as well as the protracted confrontations she has with each participant. Occasionally, Angela will take a breather by recording a video for TikTok as her alter ego Bobiță, a misogynistic alpha male who could peel paint off of walls with their profane showboating and shock comedy.

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World captures the frustrations and exhaustion of contemporary gig culture. Angela is stuck in a vicious circle and whenever she’s reminded of that, Bobiță comes out to play. Jude’s filmmaking, while faithful to Angela’s routine, is disciplined to a fault as the overall repetition wares out its welcome. To Jude’s credit, the filmmaker does try to break up the pacing by intercutting contrasting clips from Lucian Bratu’s 1981 film Angela Moves On (sometimes slowed down) as well as including a segmented narrative but, just like his previous feature Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, the tactics come across as the filmmaker being too overwhelmed by their own ideas and failing to find cohesive framing. 

However, as longwinded as it is, Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World works as a cathartic outlet for movie goers who can relate to Angela. For as crass as Bobiță is, making those videos helps Angela find her happiness, which also rubs off on other acquaintances who are familiar with Bobiță’s online presence. The film also includes a fun appearance by infamous filmmaker Uwe Boll. As the director of poorly-received video game adaptations, Boll has persevered through critical reactions to his work because filmmaking is what gives him life. Angela runs into Boll as he’s relishing in the making of a schlocky sci-fi feature. Manolache may drive home this theme of “finding your happiness” with her terrific lead performance, but Boll’s cameo really stuffs it down your throat – in a good way.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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