Amultifaceted look at present-day Romania through a family progressively torn apart by social and economic tensions, “Look Forward in Anger” is well worth a look by specialized webs. Strongly scripted, consistently interesting pic was warmly received at its screenings in the Berlin fest’s Panorama section.
Central character is Fane, a laborer in Braila, a drab town on the banks of the Danube some 100 miles northeast of Bucharest, who’s summarily fired by his factory boss, a former Securitate (secret police) stooge during communist times. Unable to get a new job, Fane spends his days hanging out in bars and the countryside with his pals, former freedom fighters now trying to scrape a living in the new market-oriented Romania, riven by unemployment and inflation.
Meanwhile, his teen daughter, Vali, has been working nights to save money to study in the capital, and his younger son, Nilu, has joined a street gang. When Viorel, Fane’s elder son, finds his sister is actually working as a prostitute in a seedy bar run by a Greek, he trashes the place and ends up in prison.
Vali and Nilu ankle for Bucharest, where they eke out a living. Fane, in a final outburst of anger at the new system, leads a strike against his factory’s bosses, with tragic results.
One of pic’s strengths is its forthright look at “new-style” Romania, where the December 1989 people’s revolution is shown to have led to economic chaos, with former communists changing clothes and idealists like Fane left on the sidelines.
Though grim on paper, the script melds many moods — funny, dramatic, lyrical , violent — with a full range of characters, an undemonstrative tone (apart from a melodramatic finale) and an appreciation that post-revolutionary disillusionment may be one thing but, for the younger generation, life still must go on.
Performances mesh well, and there’s a strong sense of purpose and direction to the pic that avoids preachiness. Scripter Petre Salcudeanu has since taken a job in the Culture Ministry but, per helmer Nicolae Margineanu, made no objections to the latter’s changes to reflect ongoing events. Tech credits are good considering the $ 100,000 (state coin) budget, with Petre Margineanu’s music rating a special nod.