DOMESTIC | MOVIE REVIEW

I sit here editing Kernel Emma’s fine review of this Romanian movie DOMESTIC and am completely relating to the plot. You see, I am freaking hungry, it is Sunday morning and nearly 10am. I did $300- worth of grocery shopping yesterday and forgot to get bacon, this morning it is pissing down and it demands a big bacon and egg breakfast. So while suffering my First World Dilemma I keep staring at the cat, what would he taste like fried up with eggs? I am also pretty sure the cat is looking at me thinking “just die so I can eat your face.” Haha. Back on topic, this movie, DOMESTIC, is screening as part of the WINDOWS ON EUROPE FILM FESTIVAL that is screening in Sydney from tomorrow November 17th to the 23rd at Dendy Opera Quays and in Canberra from 24th to 30th November at Dendy Canberra. The lineup is awesome and we have five reviews coming for you. Suss their website, grab some tickets and see some amazing European films that will most likely not make the cinema circuit in Australia. DOMESTIC has a festival exemption rating and runs for 85mins, it screens with a 22min short in Sydney and a 9min short in ACT. Enjoy Emma’s review……all the best…..JK.

 

DOMESTIC MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
DOMESTIC | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR WINDOWS ON EUROPE FILM FESTIVAL 2014 | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY EMMA BISHOP

Romanian director Adrian Sitaru’s third feature film DOMESTIC explores the complex relationships we share with our pets. Both black comedy and realism are used to paint a quirky picture of household relations, paying particular attention to the domestic animals place in the nuclear family. Beautifully shot, cleverly scripted and hilarious (if not purely because it’s so bizarre), DOMESTIC is one of a kind. This is a film that will resonate with anyone whose domestic life is incomplete without their animal companion or anyone who can laugh at routine familial chaos.

Broken into two halves, DOMESTIC follows three leads Mr Mihăeş (Gheorghe Ifrim), Mr Lazăr (Adrian Titieni), and Toni (Sergiu Costache) as they go about daily life in an unnamed apartment complex. The narrative is largely told in a child’s perspective as Lazar and Mihăeş’ children must come to terms with the fact their new pets will soon become their dinner. When the film opens we are introduced to the apartment’s colourful residents, voicing their complaints about Mr Barbu’s (one of the residents) pet dog. Juxtaposed with the arguing residents we meet the dog in question and we immediately sympathise with him. From here on in the storyline unfolds in the form of long dialogue-heavy sequences which bring the audience right into the living room of these different families. The single camera is often stagnant for long periods of time, with conversations being the central plot driver. In one apartment we meet Mr Mihăeş, an alcoholic father who provokes his son with a pet rabbit turned Christmas lunch. In another, Mr Lazar the apartment’s administrator must maintain community order while attempting to kill the live hen which he’s brought home for dinner. Toni, who shares an apartment with his sister, becomes attached to Mr Barbu’s dog and seems the only character concerned with its livelihood. DOMESTIC begins and ends with the same scene which becomes a clever framing device in giving the film a more serious, reflective tone. I won’t give away any more but as the film draws to a close we learn that things aren’t quite as they seem.

 

DOMESTIC MOVIE IMAGE
DOMESTIC | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR WINDOWS ON EUROPE FILM FESTIVAL 2014 | PET HUNGRY NEIGHBOURS

 

On the surface, DOMESTIC is hilariously clever in the way it mimics the dynamic of families co-existing. Under the surface, the film raises some interesting ethical questions and provides a unique perspective on how individuals deal with grief and death. The opposing perspectives of children and adults become apparent when live animals must become dinner. While the children of DOMESTIC exert a caring and protective nature towards their animals, the parents are only concerned with how they will be killed without creating a mess. Situational humour is used particularly well in these sequences as we learn how morally challenging it is when children learn the origins of their meat – vegetarians eat your heart out! The narrative structure is similarly clever in the way important events are left out of the storyline and audiences must quickly make inferences about what has happened. We are introduced to the story with a funeral and only learn who has died in the films latter half. Sitaru is a wonderful storyteller, this is most apparent in his narrative stylistic choices.

 

DOMESTIC MOVIE IMAGE
DOMESTIC | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR WINDOWS ON EUROPE FILM FESTIVAL 2014 | PET HUNGRY NEIGHBOURS

 

Each of the characters in DOMESTIC is well-developed and the casting is perfect. Ifrim as Mr Mihăeş is equally loathable and human; his is no doubt the standout performance. Mihăeş spends the best part of the film bullying his wife and taunting his son. It is only towards the end that we finally see a human side of him when he bonds with his son over an injured pigeon. Titeni is also great as Mr Lazar and we really sympathise with him when some tragic events occur in his household. The narrative of DOMESTIC is very much lacking in the strong female department, in fact the female characters are given very little screen time which is disappointing. While Sitaru has only directed three feature films, he is fast becoming an auteur, interested in realism and human behaviour. Following the release of the successful CHILD’S POSSE earlier this year, DOMESTIC signals a shift in films coming out of Romania from the politically motivated to more human nature focused.

On the whole DOMESTIC is quirky and fun, the characters are thoroughly constructed and the cinematography cannot be faulted. Being so dialogue heavy, the film lost me in parts and a few of the scenes bordered on rather mundane. For the most part however, Sitaru is successful in creating an engaging analysis of everyday life in Romania. If you miss the complicated household dynamic you experienced whilst growing up, this film gives you ample opportunity to remember why you vacated in the first place! This isn’t a film I would go and see again but there is certainly a market for bizarre comedies of this nature.

 

3 Pops

 

 

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