Radu Muntean, a leading figure of the Romanian New Wave, has always thoughtfully explored the human condition: from probing relationships in 2010’s Tuesday After Christmas, to examining nostalgia in his 2008 feature Boogie. His eighth work, Întregalde, positions itself as a suspense film, as we follow three characters who take a trip to a remote region of Transylvania to deliver gifts to the locals as part of a humanitarian mission.
The group is soon confronted with two classic conflicts: the human ego and mother nature. An unforgiving terrain – moulded by steep inclines, ice-cold temperatures, and a lack of inhabitants – is a horrible match up with the quarrels, arguments and behaviours exhibited by the trio. When their SUV gets stuck in the mud, their situation follows suit. The filmmaker’s approach to conveying each role is subtle yet biting, with commentary ranging from the dark side of voluntourism to an interrogation of altruism.
The three actors – Maria Popistasu, Ilona Brezoianu and Alex Bogdan – are all authentic in their performances as hip 20-somethings who have never been challenged by such a scenario and wind up in over their heads when the time comes. However, the scene-stealer is elderly thespian Luca Sabin as Kente, a rocky older gentleman who wants to hitch a ride to a sawmill. This situation unveils itself as the most difficult encounter of them all.
It’s a fascinating drama driven by intriguing decisions and entirely centred on the present. Consequently, this means that viewers don’t get much context or history of the protagonists and their charitable work, as the piece focuses on how they navigate their current dilemma. It’s exactly this narrative of how to deal with a crisis with little preparation while isolated from others, that makes Întregalde a coincidentally appropriate Covid-era story.
Întregalde does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.