For Reel

The Phantom Father (2011)
April 9, 2012, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lucian Georgescu

The works of Cristi Puiu, Radu Muntean, and Corneliu Porumboiu have saturated the American art house market for a half-decade with a series of relentlessly naturalistic, highly political masterpieces loosely connected under the banner of the Romanian New Wave. A dreadfully dull export like The Phantom Father, then, is only serviceable to ground a foreigner’s expectations of Romanian filmmaking in reality – “Hey, they make bad movies too!” Chicago-based author Barry Gifford (who collaborated with David Lynch on Wild at Heart and Lost Highway) co-wrote the screenplay – loosely based on his short story “Almost Oriental”, in which an American scholar seeks his roots in Romania – with director Lucian Georgescu. As the lead, Marcel Iures is relentlessly dull – beyond his passable generic appeal, he seems half-interested in the world around him. Georgescu partakes in a few touches of surrealism and, after a bizarre tangent in which the lead is threatened by obese, presumably vampiric nude women in a bath, one has little patience for the predictable humor and sentiment that follows. A subplot involving Ukranian gangsters further confuses things, and Georgescu’s inconsistencies with both formal qualities and tone mean that things are never funny enough, threatening enough, or heart-warming enough to give a damn.


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