A couple of weeks after his wife Ioana dies in a car crash, drunk and alone on the night he turns 42, Alexandru receives a visit. Sebastian, a shy, younger man, has been Ioana's lover for ...
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A couple of weeks after his wife Ioana dies in a car crash, drunk and alone on the night he turns 42, Alexandru receives a visit. Sebastian, a shy, younger man, has been Ioana's lover for the past five months. Sebastian has an outrageous request: he wants Alexandru to help him overcome the despair caused by Ioana's death.
Ioana, the main character in 'Charleston' directed by Andrei Cretulescu appears on the screen only in the first minute of the movie. We see her in a cafe, she gets a message on her phone, she runs out, turns the corner, and we can hear the terrible noise of a traffic accident. The subject of the rest of the film is Ana's absence. In her life, we find out, there were two men. The husband (played by Serban Pavlu) and the lover for the last few months of her life (Radu Iacoban). The two meet in strange circumstances and try to cope with the void left in their lives by Ioana's disappearance.
Men are not the best communicators, especially in moments of mourning. The two men in the film are as diverse as possible in physical appearance, social status, character. What unites them is the love and longing for Ioana. But these are mostly manifested by heavy drinking, long silences interrupted by a few punches, and a dance in the middle of the movie that has nothing to do with the rest, or if it has, I have not deciphered it. The problem with the film is that we understand or guess what the characters are about in the first ten minutes, while the movie lasts almost two hours. Almost two hours that seemed much longer to me, in which I did not learn anything about the woman who was Ioana, even though we are taken by the camera into her bedroom, favorite bar, cinema to see her beloved movie, on the seashore where her love stories began, and even at her grave in the cemetery. We find out nothing about the reasons why she chose to live a double life or what she found in the two men with whom she shared her life. The husband tells the lover at one point, 'what did Ioana find in you?'. The question I think is also valid for him. The characters do not evolve and do not grow, hiding the whole film behind the crumb of in-communication. A vague side story about a local bar being threatened by demolition because of corrupt clerks and some foggy mob-like characters add nothing substantial.
Many films with thin scripts are saved by acting. Indeed, in 'Charleston' we are dealing with good performances from fine actors. I saw Serban Pavlu in several roles on the stage and he met the expectations, but to me Radu Iacoban, whom I know less, was the true revelation. The presence on screen of Victor Rebengiuc, even for only a few minutes, was also a delight. But these characters do not communicate with each other. Perhaps this was intended by director Andrei Cretulescu, who is also the author of the script, but what works well on stage in absurd theater does not always find cinematic equivalents in movies. Perhaps the filmmaker, who came from the film critics world and this is his first feature film, has tried to demonstrate how to make a successful film for festivals. The result, however, seemed to me a long and repetitive film, a sterile and pointless exercise.
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