Policeman Cristi (Dragos Bucur) is sent to stake out a hash-smoking teenager. But he must wrestle with his conscience, and his superiors, when he's ordered to arrest the boy.
Romania new wave director Corneliu Porumboiu makes riveting use of relentlessly long realist takes in this darkly satirical, yet insidiously disconcerting study of routine and rubric. Sent to stake out a teenager (Radu Costin) suspected of drug dealing, a cop (Dragos Bucur) plods around the sombre city of Vaslui with a growing sense of futility exacerbated by the interminability of HQ bureaucracy. But Porumboiu leavens the surveillance sequences with witty interludes between Bucur and his new wife (Irina Saulescu) that presage the humiliating reprimand he receives from martinet captain Vlad Ivanov in the excoriating denouement. An acute dissection of a society trapped in its totalitarian past, this is aesthetically austere, linguistically slick and deceptively trenchant.
A riveting slice of Romanian new wave drama, haunted by shadows of the Ceausescu era and never less than thought-provoking.
Reviewed by David Parkinson