The real family

With a title of strange phonetic form and ambiguous meaning, Sieranevada carries out an acting tour de force to show the human relations from the still current perspective of one of the most important directors of the new Romanian cinema. 

More than twelve people are gathered in a cramped apartment on the anniversary of their patriarch’s death. This phrase is not meant to be a plot, not a summary, not even a brief overview of the central plot of the new film by Cristi Puiu. It’s just a state of situation, because what the Romanian director addresses – as in most of his films- is, in fact, the political history of his country, the role of the institutions, the generation gap and the entire society. All this through dialogues and actions happening in just a day among the members of a family gathered to have dinner and remember the past times. And, as a good master of managing conversations, Puiu plunges in a three-hour journey in which is practically impossible to omit sentences or contents. What happens in front of the camera is life, almost in the sense applied when talking about documentary narrative.
 
These characters are real, they are family, they talk while they eat, and those are their real thoughts. Of course, this is the feeling produced by this truth effect, in which the level or realism reaches this magic the director gets from his direction of actors. 

In Sieranevada, the precise camera records each action and reaction, each gesture in response to the dialogue, each subliminal message which is developed while the optical eye moves swinging from diverse fixed points. And the timespan of each of the shots mesmerizes in such a way one feels oneself part of this space, feels the claustrophobia of the apartment and the need to participate in the family debates. The way Puiu sets certain points of each story and each character’s thoughts is powerful- the action takes place three days after the attack against Charlie Hebdo in Paris, they allude to September, 11th-, which produces a nihilist perspective about life, about religion, about the real sense of human relations. 

That’s how the director expresses his point of view, not only from the content itself but also from his decision to omit all kind of technical intervention or any artificiality in the scene. The device is a mere witness, and the general neutrality of the resources allows a comical or tragic interpretation of the facts depending on the point of view of the very own spectator. And Puiu makes use of two resources that strengthen this idea: placing the camera at the character’s eye-level, and using the pan as the movement of a head that doesn’t want to miss anything- that is to say, watching everything as if the public were another member of this dysfunctional family. 
 


This chaos restrained in four walls, with an impossible outside almost as in El ángel exterminador, is the next candidate to the Oscars awards on behalf of Romania. And it’s not a minor detail to imagine, for a moment, Cristi Puiu standing on the red carpet, with a sharp critic against the international politics and the empire about to burst, in front of the American microphone. 
 
 
Ezequiel Vega
 
Screenings:
Today, Mon. 21 Nov - 18 pm - CIN 2 ​
​Tue. 22 Nov - 16.20 pm - CIN 2

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