Chistian Porumboiu ups the formal rigour of his last, Police, Adjective (2009), with When Evening Falls On Bucharest Or Metabolism; a film composed of 17 shots, most capturing conversations for a full reel’s 11 minutes, and filmed with an almost entirely static camera. His subjects are film director Paul and his actor and new bedmate Alina, rehearsing, eating, discussing the restraints (those 11-minute reels) of film versus digital, or how national cuisines developed according to the utensils used. They contrast in his shlubby demeanor and her careful, dancer-like movements; they misunderstand one another over dinner; and he wearily humors her working over the fine details of a scene, in order to achieve his aim of getting her naked onscreen.
One gets the impression that Porumboiu has orchestrated everything down to the tiniest detail of hands moving a cigarette packet, for example, but to what end is unclear – the rhythms of the evening after a long day’s work; the lack of effective communication between people; the sly schemes of a film director to get what he wants, perhaps. Reviewing Paul’s (faked) endoscopy the doctor says that something is missing (some identifying text on the screen) and that in filmmaking one puts what interests one at the centre of the frame, not in the margins. But what does he know? He’s only a doctor. What seems to interest Porumboiu here is not the power of language, as in his previous film, but how language and behavior can become banal at the end of the working day. Also, explicitly, how form dictates content, pinning down the actors in long takes, realistic in their lack of ready-made climaxes and consequences – like Paul’s gastritis, it’s nothing dramatic, and as impressively-controlled as the direction may be, the film’s take on what happens in the hours between shooting is, by its implied admission, less interesting than the process itself.
AFI FEST festival film page: When Evening Falls On Bucharest Or Metabolism
Country: Romania, France
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
Screenwriter: Corneliu Porumboiu
Producers: Marcela Ursu, Sylvie Pialat
Executive Producer: Marcela Ursu
Cinematographer: Tudor Mircea
Editor: Dana Bunescu
Production Designer: Mihaela Poenaru
Music: Maria Raducanu
Cast: Diana Avrămut, Bogdan Dumitrache, Mihaela Sirbu, Alexandru Papadopol, Alexandru Jitea, Gabriela Cretan, Lucian Iftime