For the first minutes of RMN, Matthias (Marin Grigore) works in a slaughterhouse in Germany. His temper puts a sudden end to his employment and he returns to his family, who live in a village in Transylvania. The town is home to Romanians of multiple ethnicities (among them Hungarians, Germans), but low wages force many citizens to choose to move away and work abroad.
In order to qualify for EU funding, the local bakehouse needs to employ a certain number of people. Despite their best efforts, none of the residents want the advertised job. Even his past with the bakery’s manager, Csilla (Judith State), can’t convince Matthias to take the position. When the company hires a group of workers from Sri Lanka, the villagers start sharpening their pitchforks.
This multilingual production is screening in Cannes’s main competition, where, in 2007, director Cristian Mungiu won the Palme d’Or for Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days.
The breathtaking nature at the heart of the film’s cinematography adds subtle nuance to the storyline as it exposes the villagers’ reluctance to even share this space with the inhabitants that came before them: the native foxes and bears. Xenophobia and hate rarely stick to one target.
RMN is not an easy watch. The subject matter paired with the slow pace and, for non-native speakers, at times confusing language debate (“Speak in Romanian!” is a recurring demand) require the audience’s full concentration at all times. There is embellishment to Matthias’s character that feel superfluous, as viewers will grasp his patriarchal mindset from the first time he aggressively orders his wife not to sissify their son. Mungiu’s objective to call attention to the xenophobic tendencies in his country is too important to get lost in the protagonist’s own problematic ramblings. If the runtime had been cut down from its current 125 minutes to a more digestible 100, RMN would likely be a more accessible experience.
RMN does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch a clip from RMN here: