With “RMN”, director Cristian Mungiu paints a vitriolic portrait of a xenophobic Romania

Three times awarded at Cannes, with a Palme d’or for 4 months, 3 weeks, 12 days in 2007, Cristian Mungiu continued his analysis of Romanian society with NMR which hits theaters Wednesday, October 19. The filmmaker is somewhat below expectations due to a lack of balance between the chronicle of a Romanian village caught in a harsh winter, and the denunciation of the xenophobia that is rampant there.

Mathias returns from Germany to his small Romanian village, after having fled his job, following a brawl in his company. He finds his son disturbed by an obsessive vision, his companion who takes care of him, his sick father, and his former mistress. When the local industrial bakery recruits foreigners, the population launches a petition to send them home. The apparent civil peace between the Romanian, Hungarian and German communities in the village is shattered.

In all his films, Cristian Mungiu explores Romanian society. After abortion, the Ceaușescu years, religion and education, he is now tackling the xenophobia that plagues the country following the migratory wave of recent years. The title NMR (MRI in Romanian) refers to the medical imaging of Mathias’ father’s brain, which he consults regularly on his laptop. This representation of a degenerating brain could refer to the disordered Romanian software. But the acronym of the title is also reminiscent of that of Romania, as on a license plate. He would then evoke a global Romania, through the particular case of this Romanian village. The balance sheet is not glorious.

Beginning with the mysterious vision of a frightened child in the forest, NMR then follows Mathias who finds his world and especially his son to whom he wants to devote himself. But he is embarrassed by the child’s mother, his companion, when he prefers an ex-mistress. The film gets bogged down somewhat in the chronicle of this snowy village, traversed by successive innocuous anecdotes from which a rather poor dramaturgy emerges. Why not ? But one wonders where Mungiu is coming from with this pearl necklace, with repetitive episodes. Until the main subject finally emerges: the radical opposition of the population to the presence of three foreigners in the village.

This is the most interesting part of the film, with a remarkable town meeting scene, played by non-professional actors who improvise their text. But what an imbalance in the construction and the rhythm of the film. The final scene, with actors made up as bears, is quite ridiculous, and gives the final blow to what turns out to be the least good film by an otherwise fascinating filmmaker.

The sheet

Gender : Drama
Director: Christian Mungiu
Actors: Marin Grigore, Judith State, Macrina Bârlădeanu
Country : Romania / France / Belgium
Duration : 2h05
Exit : October 19, 2022
Distributer : The pact

Summary: A few days before Christmas, Matthias is back in his native, multi-ethnic village in Transylvania, after quitting his job in Germany. He worries about his son, Rudi, who is growing up without him, about his father, Otto, left alone and he wants to see Csilla, his ex-girlfriend, again. He tries to get more involved in the education of the boy who has remained too long in the care of his mother, Ana, and wants to help him overcome his irrational anxieties. When the factory that Csilla manages decides to recruit foreign employees, the peace of the small community is disturbed, anxieties also reach the adults. Frustrations, conflicts and passions resurface, shattering the semblance of peace in the community.

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With “RMN”, director Cristian Mungiu paints a vitriolic portrait of a xenophobic Romania