When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (2013)

69% – Critics
60% – Audience

When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism Storyline

Focused on a director and his leading actress while they are off the set. They discuss the discrepancies between film and digital cinema, Western and Eastern food, and try to capture an unfiltered (and seemingly impossible) sense of “reality” on film.—Alec

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When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism Movie Reviews

a cinematographic exercise with no substance

I am following quite closely the development of the Romanian cinema, and Corneliu Porumboiu is one of the directors whose previous work I enjoyed a lot, especially ’12:08 East of Bucharest’ which was a story about the 1989 events of the fall of the Communism in a small town of Romania, placed under doubt both from a political as well as personal memory perspective. I confess however that I was deeply disappointed by this 2013 film which seems to me to be a dry and didactic exercise in method taken to the extreme where all substance and action become largely irrelevant. The result is simply boring, and the reaction of the audience at the Haifa Festival was a mix of incredulity, sarcasm and revolt with the daring one leaving the screening hall before the end and getting back good minutes of their lives.

‘When Evening Falls on Bucharest’ tries to tell the story of a delayed day in the making of a film that does not tell anything important. The director (Bogdan Dumitrache) endlessly rehearses a nude screen with the lead actress (Diana Avramut) who ‘happens’ to be his lover. The scene is meaningless, but the director tries to get some sense of it. Almost the same as the envelope of this film which contains meaningless dialogs about the beauty and ugliness of the human body, the cinema of Michelangelo Antonioni or Chinese food. The lives of the characters are empty, their actions are incomprehensible (why does the director go through the pain of simulating an endoscopy in order to postpone a filming day? we never know), and the result is boring.

I know where this is coming from. Much of the success of Romanian cinema in the last decade was due to using a minimalist approach in describing the day-to-day lives of people during the Communist rule, or the transition period that followed. The method fit well the stories, because it is good to speak on low tone about situations that otherwise would generate revolt in the hearts of the viewers. The human dimensions of the characters of those films are much emphasized by the method. In ‘When Evening Falls on Buchares’ acting is very much according to the method, but the characters are empty, there is no human dimension to emphasize. There is only one good idea in the whole script, one scene in which the scene in the film is mirrored in reality, with the roles of the man and woman switched over. Reality is more efficient than the best directing. The rest is flat. If the director meant to say something smart about the relationship between director and actor, or pass some social message about the emptiness of life in today’s Romania, it all got buried in the huge boredom that this film creates which to some viewers may cause even anger. Talking about Antonioni is even less than an Antonioni quote. The characters of Antiononi exercised existential spleen because they first of all existed. Porumboiu’s characters in this film do not even exist.

Director and the female lead in his movie–pretty boring

The Romanian film Când se lasa seara peste Bucuresti sau metabolism was shown in the U.S. with the title When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (2013). It was written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu.

Movies about making movies aren’t new, but this one is different. We never really see anyone making the movie. What we see instead is the star, Alina–played by the beautiful Diana Avramut–and the director, Paul (Bogdan Dumitrache) in endless discussion about making movies.

They are also rehearsing her nude scene, when she steps out of a shower, although the rehearsal is done with her fully clothed. (There’s a very short shot of Alina in bed, nude from the waist up, but it wasn’t clear to me what that had to do with the shower scene. Actually, it wasn’t clear to me what that had to do with the rest of the movie.)

Other than talking, Paul and Alina eat, and they smoke. The eating scenes are interesting, in the sense that Paul wolfs down his food, while Alina delicately cuts her food into small portions, and then brings it carefully to her mouth. The constant smoking is taken for granted in the movie. Maybe smoking is still commonplace in Romania, at least among people in the movie industry. It looks strange to me compared to what we see around us in the U.S.

Much is made of the fact that Alina looks like the beautiful Italian actress Monica Vitti. (Paul knows the history of cinema, and has studied the films of Antonioni.) Alina is lovely, but she doesn’t look much like Monica Vitti, and she apparently has no interest in film history.

One point was well taken. Alina has worked in theater as well as film. Paul points out to her that most theater directors have to direct plays written by others. They have to try to understand what the author meant and wanted. Paul–in the movie within a movie–and Porumboiu–in this movie–have written the work they are directing. So, whatever else does or doesn’t happen, at least they know what the writer was trying to say.

There’s a scene, apparently set in a trailer, where we watch a video of an upper endoscopy. None of that made sense to me. Was that a scene from the movie that presumably was being made? Who needed convincing that the gastroscopy was normal? Very strange.

We’ve seen several recent films from Romania. Like this one, they are considered part of the Romanian New Wave. We’ve enjoyed all the others. This one had its moments, but I don’t think it’s worth seeking out.

We watched the movie at the excellent Dryden Theatre in George Eastman House in Rochester. (It was part of the Curator’s Choice series.) If you decide to see it, it will work equally well on the small screen.

This movie is about the problems of Romanian film industry and the positive/negative effects of relationships to our daily lives.

Even it seems like a boring movie, it tells so many things to us from a narrowed perspective. The movie is mostly about the film industry in Romania, but it also says something about the modern relationships. The relationship between Paul (the director) and the actress (forgot her name) is has nothing to do with emotions. They are only sleeping together because of being taking part in the same movie. Although Paul seems like the cool and the muscular one, after being sure that the actress doesn’t into him, he changes the script and turns into the previous one, just because of his emotions. It means that the difference between men and women is disappearing. The meals they have and the difference between their eating styles is also very important to show how their relationship is. They always defend different ideas, can’t get each other easily, but they never stop sleeping. That is not because being attached or being in love. Actually there isn’t any reason in the movie, but isn’t it how people live today. Doing things without thinking, without any reasons. Like “zombies” (–> Only Lovers Left Alive). This is not the only thing that this movie tells us from its narrowed window. But this is the only thing that is important to me. If you like to see the differences which are disappearing or still lasting between men and women, go and watch this.