“RMN”: welcome to Transylvania

Posted Oct 18, 2022 5:00 PMUpdated on Oct 19, 2022 at 10:11 a.m.

A palme d’or in 2007 (“4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days”), a script award in 2012 (“Beyond the hills”), a directing award in 2016 (” Baccalaureate ”)… Until then, Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu’s career at the Cannes Film Festival had looked flawless. Last May, the director would have deserved to complete his collection of prizes with “RMN”, an impressive film on Romania and more generally on Europe today.

Five months after the announcement of list concocted by Vincent Lindon and its jury, one still wonders how such a capital fiction could have been neglected while certain insignificant works were honored.

Communal madness

In “RMN”, Cristian Mungiu, faithful to his thematic obsessions and to a realistic style that favors sequence shots, follows a few characters who have nothing heroic about them to stage our time and its unreasons. Following a confrontation with a colleague who called him a “Roma”, Matthias, a taciturn Romanian, has to leave Germany where he works and returns to his native village in Transylvania. On the spot, he finds his wife with whom he has conflicting relations, his young son, walled in silence, his sick father and his mistress: Csilla, who holds an important job in an industrial bakery company, the only economic stronghold of this deprived region. Matthias also rediscovers the identity clashes that afflict this remote corner of his country where communities from Germany, Hungary and “native” Romanians live side by side. Yesterday, everyone was united to chase the Roma from the village. Today, almost everyone is determined to subject the same fate to three Sri Lankan workers, “low cost” employees who have just been hired in the factory where Csilla works.

The exacerbated communitarianism, the dread of the “great replacement”, the social decay which stirs up fear of the other and racism… In “RMN”, Cristian Mungiu, with his microcosm of Transylvania and his sadly emblematic characters (including a young Frenchman in the service of an NGO that… counts bears), observes with a magnifying glass certain contemporary, potentially destructive “failures”.

A chilling gaze

With its inventive screenplay that avoids the pitfalls of didacticism, its staging of an implacable rigor and its tangle of languages ​​(Romanian, Hungarian, German, French) which in no way testifies to a happy globalization, “RMN” takes a chilling look at frustrations and resentments that threaten to turn into xenophobic violence.

Inspired by a real news item that took place in a Romanian village in 2020, “RMN”, without ever judging its protagonists, reveals unfortunately universal realities. “The themes that I address in ‘RMN’ do not only concern Romania, explains Cristian Mungiu. This temptation to designate the other and the foreigner as responsible for all our ills is a kind of constant in history and it is revived today everywhere in the world with bellicose nationalisms of all kinds. I wanted to draw a collective portrait through this village and show a sneaky mechanism: how certain fears lead to the worst. The filmmaker masterfully achieves his goal. “RMN” is one of the most important films of the year.


romanian movie

by Cristian Mungiu.

With Marin Grigore, Judith Slate, Ovidiu Crisan. 2:05 a.m.

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“RMN”: welcome to Transylvania