Director: Radu Jude
Year of Release: 2015
Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes
Like a cross between a John Ford Western and a comedic road movie, Radu Jude's Aferim! could also be seen as a Romanian commentary on slavery, misogyny, and the overall barbaric nature of humankind during the 1800s. Hell, it may be a cultural snapshot closer to our own world than we'd like to admit. The film follows law enforcement official Costandin (Teodor Corban) and his son Ionita (Mihai Comanoiu), who embark on a manhunt to capture a man named Carfin (Toma Cuzin), a gypsy caught having an affair with the wife of a high ranking aristocrat. Shot in pristine 35mm black and white, with locked down camera shots mostly held at a distance, Aferim! is structured like a classic Western, but subverts expectations by injecting bawdy humor and a distinctly Romanian New Wave sensibility. This is seen most vividly in the character of Costandin, with Corban delivering perfectly pitched vulgar monologues and pessimistic throwaway lines. As a vision of a morally corrupt region of Romania that was at that time part of the Ottoman Empire, Jude's picture is distinctly critical of this particular time in history, but it's also disarmingly humorous, leaving the audience questioning just how much to laugh before squirming.