I’m not sure what întregalde expects from me.

This Romanian drama is supposed to act as a genuine window for audiences to observe human behaviour that’s pushed to uncomfortable, stressful limits.  The film follows through on that goal well enough, but then what?  Am I supposed to congratulate its ability to mimic monotony?  Viewers watch a key group of volunteers deliver ration packs to impoverished families, and then watch their Land Rover get stuck in the muddy muck on an isolated backwoods trail.  They’re led on the questionable road by an eccentric and aloof elderly man (Luca Sabin) who shrugs off the worries of the stranded volunteers.

întregalde has been described as a satire, but I’m afraid that went over my head.  I saw the film as a stripped down take on survival stories in bottle movies.  Director/co-writer Radu Muntean (One Floor Below) does deliver a realistic film, but there’s not much for audiences to find interest in other than the initial reaction to the plot.  We react to the Land Rover getting stuck, but then întregalde settles in and doesn’t add to the conflict.  The movie reminded me of the recent work of Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff, First Cow) in how a simple premise is barely expanded on except through subtle nuances. 

Fans of Reichardt (or this type of slow cinema) won’t see this as a criticism – it may actually make people seek out întregalde.  But as someone who finds himself bored to tears with those aesthetics, this was an instance where I wouldn’t have minded if the eccentric, aloof old man turned out be an extra from the Wrong Turn reboot and lured the volunteers to a private, dangerous camp.  Obviously, that isn’t the movie Muntean wants to make, and not a movie for me.  Maybe I should just watch Wrong Turn again.

întregalde is now available to stream at the digital TIFF Bell Lightbox.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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