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Every Day God Kisses Us on the Mouth

(În fiecare zi Dumnezeu ne saruta pe gura, Sinisa Dragin, Romania, 2001)


 


It seems that today no TV sketch comedy, self-referential short movie or humourist’s newspaper column is complete without the obligatory joke about some imaginary ‘Eastern European film’.

Blithely disregarding recent, complex political histories in that part of the world, these facile gags in fact hark back to some leftover images from the ’60s – this ‘poor’ Eastern European cinema viewed as relentlessly grim, mired in the mud of a depressive everyday reality, telling stories about socialist collectives and struggling peasants with weathered faces.

Sinisa Dragin’s Every Day God Kisses Us on the Mouth both provides ammunition for such jokers (who don’t see the real films they laugh about, anyway) and explodes the clichés. It is definitely grim, and it concerns a troubled, grisly man struggling with some blackly comic forces of destiny. Dumitru (Dan Condurache) is a butcher with an unhappy home life who stumbles, step by step, into serial murder. Hysteria reigns all around him, in a manner that at moments recalls films by Béla Tarr or Emir Kusturica: animals flee in all directions, pregnant women wail, men are compulsive and glum, towns look like ruins on the verge of collapse.

As one commentator cleverly wrote: "We have to hope that it does not serve as a parable for the moral situation of Romania". Dragin, in his second film, clearly reflects, through a distorting lens, his country’s malaise, but he bars us from reducing it to a simplistic allegory of (to Westerners) some far-off, strange, primitive land.

He gives the film a magical, surreal dimension (starting with haunting apparitions of flight) which raises it to another level; and the sophistication of his own cinematic technique places it in dialogue with films from all over the globe in the present moment.

© Adrian Martin March 2002


Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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