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The Treasure

on Jan 4, 2016

After his business folds during the recession and he falls behind on his mortgage payment, Adrian is approached by a neighbor seeking help. The two rent a metal detector to search for valuables that, accordingly to family lore, were buried by the neighbor’s great-grandfather to avoid repossession by the Communists decades ago.

Porumboiu’s latest has all the expected qualities of a Romanian New Wave film — it’s realist, minimalist and rife with deadpan humor. It also has something reminiscent of a specific French New Wave film: Le Bonheur, by Agnes Varda. Just like Le Bonheur, the lead’s real-life wife and kids play his wife and kids in the film, granting the film a certain familiar texture. Also Porumboiu is unafraid of bold cut-ins, and his work recalls a similar stylistic editing as Varda’s film.

 Much of the story takes place during the rural backyard treasure hunt, and the metal detecting and digging lend themselves to a dry slapstick physical humor. The metal detector’s beeps also punctuate the scenes to hilarious effect. The restricted scenario also feels a bit like theater, in a good way. But perhaps most impressive is Porumboiu’s ability to weave in a sense of both the contemporary political situation and the nation’s recent history without it feeling forced.

 (Whitney Mallett)

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