When a young orphan begs her former lover to leave her new life as a Romanian Orthodox nun, she threatens the order that the convent’s founding priest has so meticulously established. Basing his story on the 2005 tragedy in the Tanacu monastery, Mungiu refuses to put his thumb on the scale, or impugn any motives, but by the time we’re witnessing an attempted exorcism in excruciating detail, the consequences speak for themselves.
A young boy arrives in a storage container at a port in Normandy, where an aging bohemian shoeshiner rallies his neighbors to reunite him with his family who settled across the Channel in London. As he does in THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE, Kaurismäki grounds his sweet, inspiring fable by indicting countries that use xenophobia and militarized police forces to dehumanize people struggling to find safe harbor.
The wife’s a hero. The husband’s a zero.
When Arati takes up a sales job to pick up the slack from her husband’s meager salary, the whole family must come to terms with the shift of power in the household. Madhabi Mukherjee brings an infectious joy to Arati’s discoveries, radiant as she tries lipstick for the first time, closes her first sale, negotiates a raise, and finds the confidence to lead her family, despite their patriarchal grievances.
There are no superheroes that rival King Hu’s monks and knights errant, but despite the spectacular action setpieces, this film is more somber and pensive than his earlier DRAGON INN. Hu takes a similar story of a young warrior woman on the run from a host of treacherous eunuchs, but expands it into a sweeping epic that takes time for lyricism, and to challenge the role we expect a hero to play.
The Bri-terion Collection
I’m loving the Criterion Channel streaming service, so every week I’m going to share my favorite new find.