You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hello! How Are You?

Pic proves that even more commercial films can deliver emotional epiphanies.

With: Dana Voicu, Ionel Mihailescu, Paul Diaconescu, Jordi Garcia, Ana Popescu, Ioan Andrei Ionescu.

The antithesis of the grim naturalism of the best-known new Romanian cinema, helmer Alexandru Maftei’s bittersweet romantic comedy “Hello! How Are You?” feels like a breath of fresh air, proving that even more commercial films can deliver emotional epiphanies. Witty, stylishly crafted tale of a husband and wife whose 20-year marriage has long since lost its zing, making them vulnerable to the enticements of an Internet chatroom, is ripe for remake. Fest travel beckons, with domestic theatrical prospects looking fine for this fall release.

From the opening scene, framed so that the heads of the central couple are cut off, helmer Maftei makes it clear musician Gabriel (low-key Ionel Mihailescu) and dimpled dry-cleaning proprietress Gabriela (theater thesp Dana Voicu, the helmer’s wife) live like two strangers who no longer see each other. But in humorous contrast to their staid, passionless lives, he surrounds them with characters in a constant state of sexual arousal.

Their libidinous teen son, Vladimir (theater student Paul Diaconescu in a sizzling debut), whose hilarious voiceover commentary intermittently provides important narrative information, prides himself on being the high school stud and aspires to a career in porn. Gabriela’s sexy employee Toni (fetching Ana Popescu) switches boyfriends like she changes clothes. And despite being married, Gabriel’s colleague Marcel (Ioan Andrei Ionescu) is working his way through the female members of their orchestra.

Eventually, circumstances lead the two Gabys to discover the joys of anonymous online chat. After several long nights in intimate conversation with a stranger, they fall in love without knowing that they have actually found each other. In a poignant climactic twist, their virtual affair ultimately reconnects them with their own desires, but in a way less movie-fantasy and more satisfyingly real-life: Pic might sound similar in outline to “The Shop Around the Corner” and remake “You’ve Got Mail,” but is actually headed in a very different direction.

Maftei’s striking, always-inventive compositions find visual equivalents for the fog of love and frustration his characters feel. Montage sequences of the Gabys’ daily life with superimposed lines of Internet dialogue are particularly nice.

Displaying a companionable chemistry, Voicu and Mihailescu convince as a long-married couple guiltily contemplating cheating. Meanwhile, ultra-confident Diaconescu captures the right over-the-top tone as their manipulative only child.

Reportedly the first Romanian romantic comedy since 1990, the charming script by Lia Bugnar (better known as an actress) grew out of an idea by Maftei, which was in turn inspired by a news item. The fact that there is nothing especially Romanian about the story adds to its universal dimension; the attractive but non-particularized settings might be found anywhere.

Unlike the films of the Romanian new wave, which tend toward only diegetic use of music, “Hello!” is motored by a dynamic score that varies from jaunty jazz to orchestral. Rest of the tech package is solid.

Hello! How Are You?


Production: A Rollin Studio/ABS Film Co./Trees Pictures production, with the support of the Romanian CNC, in cooperation with Romanian National Television, with participation of HBO Romania. (International sales: M-appeal, Berlin.) Produced by Tudor Reu, Antoni Sole, Maurizio Santarelli. Executive producer, Radu Aldea. Directed by Alexandru Maftei. Screenplay, Lia Bugnar, from an idea by Maftei.

Crew: Camera (color), Radu Aldea; editor, Mihai Codleanu; music, Dragos Alexandru; production designer, Mihaela Ularu, Andreea Hillerin; art director, Gerard Malet; costume designer, Nicoleta Carnu, Delia Adroer; sound (Dolby Digital), Marius Leftarache, Florin Tabacaru; special effects, Liviu Lungiou, Adrian Serbanescu; line producer, Loris Curci. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 18, 2010. (Also in Transylvania Film Festival.) Running time: 106 MIN.

With: With: Dana Voicu, Ionel Mihailescu, Paul Diaconescu, Jordi Garcia, Ana Popescu, Ioan Andrei Ionescu.

More Film

  • My Dear Friend

    Shanghai Film Review: 'My Dear Friend'

    Like a slow-acting hallucinogen, Chinese director Yang Pingdao’s audaciously strange and sorrowful feature debut works its magic so gradually that it’s with a slight surprise that halfway through you glance down and realize you’re high off the social-realist ground, suspended surreally in the air. At first a gritty tale of feckless men abandoning their families [...]

  • Agent M (Tessa Thompson) and Agent

    Box Office: 'Men in Black: International' Ranks No. 1 Overseas With $74 Million

    Sony’s “Men in Black: International” is making good on its title, leading overseas box office charts with $74 million from 56 foreign territories. Combined with its disappointing $28 million start in North America, the latest chapter in the sci-fi action series debuted with $102.2 million globally. “Men in Black: International” sees “Thor: Ragnarok” co-stars Tessa [...]

  • Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and Agent

    'Men in Black: International' Leads Box Office With Muted $28 Million

    Hollywood seems to be coming down with a contagious case of franchise fatigue this summer, as “Men in Black: International” and “Shaft” become the latest sequels largely dismissed by moviegoers in North America. Sony’s “Men in Black: International” led ticket sales at the box office this weekend with $28.5 million, but still fell short of [...]

  • International Film Festival and Awards Macao

    Macao Festival Signs Double Deals With Shanghai

    The International Film Festival & Awards Macao on Sunday signed twin agreements with institutions in Shanghai. The IFFAM, which is building towards its fourth edition in December, struck a collaboration agreement with the Shanghai International Film Festival. Separately, it is solidifying an existing informal arrangement with the Shanghai Film Art Academy concerning an exchange of [...]

  • wanda Movie Metropolis Qingdao

    Why Simon West Is Making Movies in China (EXCLUSIVE)

    British director Simon West (“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Con Air,” “The Expendables 2”) is set to dive further into the Middle Kingdom at the helm of his second Chinese action-adventure blockbuster. The Wanda-backed “The Legend Hunters,” hits theaters next summer. West was brought onto the project by veteran producer Eryong, who had approached him about [...]

  • The Eight Hundred

    Chinese Research Group May Have Caused Cancellation of 'The Eight Hundred' Premiere

    Chinese authorities may have abruptly yanked the $80 million patriotic war epic “The Eight Hundred” the day before its opening-night premiere at the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival because it didn’t portray rivals of the ruling Communist Party in a sufficiently negative light, local reports said. Huayi Bros., which produced the film, had on Friday attributed [...]

  • Simon West

    Simon West Directing Chinese Tomb-Raid Movie 'Legend Hunters' (EXCLUSIVE)

    British director Simon West, who made the Angelina Jolie-starring “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” is now co-directing a Chinese tomb-raiding film. “The Legend Hunters” is the next installment in the “Mojin” universe, based on the popular fantasy novel series “Ghost Blows Out the Light.” Backed by Wanda Pictures and Beijing-based Saints Entertainment, the film is set [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content