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CANNES 2015 Un Certain Regard

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The Treasure: Shut up and dig!

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- CANNES 2015: The playful and intelligent Corneliu Porumboiu has come up with a new film that delicately combines comedy with an immersion in Romania’s recent history

The Treasure: Shut up and dig!
Cuzin Toma and Adrian Purcarescu in The Treasure

Imagine one evening you are at home, with your family, reading a story to your six-year-old son, when your neighbour rings the doorbell and asks you to lend him 800 euros. Ill at ease, you refuse, but he explains himself: his small business went bankrupt because of the crisis and he owes 70,000 euros, plus 17,000 more in interest. Still feeling uncomfortable, you refuse once again (“Sorry, neighbour, but there is nothing I can do”) and you go back to reading. But a few minutes later, the doorbell rings again. It is your neighbour again, but this time, he asks you if you’ve heard of the legend of the treasure hidden before the communists arrived, and he reveals to you that that had been the case for his great-grandfather. The secret was handed down to him: there is absolutely a treasure in the garden of his family home. All he needs is a mere 800 euros to rent a metal detector, but if you agree to be in on it, 50% of the treasure will be yours.

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This is the astonishing starting point for the new film by the playful Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu, The Treasure [+see also:
trailer
film focus
interview: Corneliu Porumboiu
interview: Corneliu Porumboiu
film profile
]
, unveiled in Un Certain Regard at the 68th Cannes Film Festival. This “farce” in the guise of a realistic story once again proves (especially after 12:08 East of Bucarest [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Corneliu Porumboiu
interview: Daniel Burlac
film profile
]
, which won a Caméra d'Or on the Croissette in 2006, and Police, Adjective [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Corneliu Porumboiu
film profile
]
, also revealed in Un Certain Regard in 2009) this filmmaker's effortless talent; his delightful taste for absurd humour is not without a sharp intelligence that obliquely reflects his country's society.

After reflecting and being well informed (particularly about the fact that any potential treasure is supposed to be declared for expert assessment to the State, which claims 30% of its value, if it is an item of national heritage), Costi (Cuzin Toma), who lives the dull live of a Civil Servant, accepts his neighbour Adrian's (Adrian Purcarescu) proposition. Our two stooges then set off on a ludicrous treasure hunt, accompanied by a third thief, a metal-detector specialist (the hilarious non-professional actor Corneliu Cozmei). A quest worthy of the exaggerated hopes of the gold washers from western films that will see them persevere, over one day and one night, in going over the garden with a fine-tooth comb and digging a deep hole, an exhausting endeavour made all the more frenetic by the irritation of anticipating the outcome…

Beyond the outstandingly comedic dimension of its narrative (in a similar deadpan style to Buster Keaton), The Treasure also delves deep into the recent history of Romania, given that the place where the heart of the plot unfolds (from a screenplay written by the filmmaker himself) had a turbulent fate, at the whim of the political changes: the house was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War, nationalised by the communists in 1947 and recovered by Adrian’s family after a few years of forced displacement to the south of the country; it later became a chemist's, a stable, a nursery school, and finally a strip club following the 1989 Revolution, before falling into decay. These are elements that the story builds up in small, subtle layers that end up sketching out a vast panorama around the three men and their hole; Corneliu Porumboiu adds to these elements through his directing, which is highly polished beneath its apparent simplicity. Very much like a good detector, the talented director has not missed his chance to sink his teeth into a very good story.

Produced by 42KM Film with French outfits Rouge International and Les Films du Worso, The Treasure is sold internationally by Wild Bunch.

(Translated from French)

See also

Film Business Course
WBImages Locarno
Emilia Romagna_site ENG
 

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