You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


The absurdity of borders and the decency of the average Joe are the main themes.

With: Andras Hathazi, Yilmaz Yalcin, Elvira Rimbu, Dorin C. Zachei, Levente Molnar, Razvan Vicoveanu. (Romanian, Hungarian, Turkish dialogue)

The absurdity of borders and the decency of the average Joe are the main themes of Marian Crisan’s buzzed-about feature debut, “Morgen.” The helmer’s 2008 Palme d’Or for short “Megatron” set up expectations that “Morgen” confirms, adroitly negotiating major issues in an intimate way by looking at their impact on a few people in a corner of northwestern Romania. Discreetly controlled lensing and an undisguised heart at the film’s core reveal a distinct voice in the Romanian landscape, and should translate into modest fest coverage with limited Euro arthouse possibilities for this Locarno jury prizewinner.

Returning home after a fishing trip on the Hungarian side of Romania’s frontier, Nelu (Andras Hathazi) is stopped by border guards who grill him for small infractions. This early scene, shot in dawn’s early light, is the first to underline the rigidity of minor authoritarian figures and the waste of resources, energy and goodwill that go into the inflexible enforcement of minor rules.

Nelu is a supermarket security guard who asks little from life apart from fishing, a beer with friends and some extra money to fix up the crumbling farmhouse he shares with sour-faced wife Florica (Elvira Rimbu) on the outskirts of the border town of Salonta. One morning, while casting his line, he sees a man hiding from the frontier police and reflexively offers protection. Behran (Yilmaz Yalcin) illegally crossed the Turkish-Bulgarian border before arriving in Romania, and only wants to get to Germany to be with his son’s family. Though he speaks no Romanian and Nelu speaks no Turkish, the two men, who are not far apart in age, develop a bond.

Some may chafe at Crisan’s decision to make Behran as unintelligible to auds as he is to Nelu; the loquacious Turk is never subtitled, though it’s possible to generically understand what he wants, as Nelu does. The device maintains a wall around Behran’s character, increasing the spectator’s identification with Nelu while keeping the Turk at a sometimes frustrating distance.

At first the mild-mannered Romanian conceals Behran in the cellar, lying to his harridan wife by saying their visitor is a gypsy hired to help with house repairs. A soccer game across the Hungarian border seems an ideal occasion to smuggle the Turk one country closer to his destination, but Behran gets spooked by a police car and comes back to his benefactor. All the poor Turk wants is assistance to get to Germany, but opportunities are scarce and Nelu can only reassure him with the one word he knows in German: “morgen” (“tomorrow”).

One of the pic’s many gentle pleasures is the way Crisan develops his characters, naturally conveying details with little or no exposition. Nelu’s uncomplicated humanity remains the focus, making his simple transgression — hiding an illegal refugee — seem both normal and wholly revolutionary. The director similarly brings to life the artificiality of borders, and the special qualities of frontier towns whose residents naturally partake of both sides.

Using largely middle and long shots, the lensing is true to the unobtrusive, handheld style of most recent Romanian pics, and only as the film progresses does the viewer realize all the scenes are done in one-shot takes, furthering a mood of unhurried rhythms. Natural light creates striking images, though reduced clarity in largely penumbral interiors can be wearying.

Popular on Variety



Production: A Mandragora presentation and production, in collaboration with Slot Machine, Katapult Films. (International sales: Les Films du Losange, Paris.) Produced by Anca Puiu. Co-producers, Marianne Slot, Ivan Angelusz. Executive producer, Anca Puiu. Directed, written by Marian Crisan.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Tudor Mircea; editor, Tudor Pojoni; production designer, Robert Koteles; costume designer, Alexandra Ungureanu; sound (Dolby SRD), Calin Potcoava; associate producer, Marian Crisan; assistant director, Tudor Pojoni; casting, Levente Molnar. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 6, 2010. Running time: 102 MIN.

With: With: Andras Hathazi, Yilmaz Yalcin, Elvira Rimbu, Dorin C. Zachei, Levente Molnar, Razvan Vicoveanu. (Romanian, Hungarian, Turkish dialogue)

More Film

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez's 'Criminal' Striptease: How 'Hustlers' Landed the Fiona Apple Hit

    Contrary to what you might be expecting, the number of songs by Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo and Cardi B in “Hustlers,” their newly released acting vehicle, adds up to … zero. Meanwhile, the standout music sync in a movie that’s full of them belongs to no less likely a choice than Fiona Apple. The scene in [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones,' 'Avengers' Win Big at 45th Annual Saturn Awards

    As Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her first trophy ever at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards Friday night, she had a good luck charm on her arm: former manager Chuck Binder, whom she said was the reason she became an actor. “I was in college and had no thought of being an actor,” Curtis told [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Dances Toward $32 Million Opening Weekend

    “Hustlers” is eyeing the biggest opening weekend ever for STXFilms, following a Friday domestic ticket haul of $13.1 million from 3,250 theaters. If estimates hold, the stripper saga could take home around $32 million come Sunday, marking the best live-action opening of Jennifer Lopez’s career. “Hustlers” follows a group of former strip club dancers, led [...]

  • Hustlers intimacy coordinator

    Meet the Stripper Consultant Who Gave 'Hustlers' Authenticity, Dignity and Sexual Freedom

    At last week’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Hustlers,” an audience of Hollywood heavyweights and Canadian locals applauded as a statuesque woman strutted on stage, rocking six-inch platform heels and a pastel tie-dye bodysuit. This adoration was not for stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu or Keke Palmer, nor was it for the film’s acclaimed writer-director [...]

  • Kristen Stewart

    French Director Olivier Assayas Pays Tribute to Kristen Stewart at Deauville

    French director Olivier Assayas paid tribute to Kristen Stewart, whom he directed in “Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Personal Shopper,” at the Deauville American Film Festival on Friday evening. Stewart received a honorary award in Deauville before the French premiere of Benedict Andrews’s “Seberg” in which the actress stars as Jean Seberg, a French New [...]

  • Liam Gallagher: As It Was

    Film Review: 'Liam Gallagher: As It Was'

    Liam Gallagher is nearly as fascinating a rock ‘n’ roll figure as he thinks he is … which is saying a lot. After the breakup of Oasis, one of the most self-avowedly arrogant stars in pop culture found himself severely humbled, fighting to become relevant again without the help of Noel, his ex-bandmate and, for [...]

  • The Vast of Night

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Vast of Night'

    It’s the first high school basketball game of the season and all of Cayuga, N.M., population 492, is cheering on the Statesmen at the gym. Except for the town’s two brightest kids, Everett (Jake Horowitz) and Fay (Sierra McCormick), who are strolling through the empty darkness to their respective jobs as a radio DJ and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content