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Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World
Photograph: © 4 Proof Film

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Take a wild road trip through late capitalism with this irreverent, audacious Romanian satire

Do you work to live or live to work? If you’ve got a half-decent job, it might just be the latter. For young millennial Angela, a hard-pressed PA at a Bucharest film production company in Radu Jude’s self-described tale of ‘Cinema and Economics in Two Parts’, it’s barely even the former. She’s a pissed-off but hard-working member of the gig economy, grinding through a 16-hour shift. The ‘Ode to Joy’ on her ringtone feels strictly ironic.

Played by Ilinca Manolache with gum-chewing insouciance and a total absence of bullshit, Angela schlepps around the city in her car, blasting out Romanian turbo-folk and hip hop on the radio, flicking V signs at abusive motorists, and generally trying to keep her eyes open as she films victims of industrial accidents sharing their testimonies. The end result will be a corporate video encouraging workers to wear their safety gear – a message that, by implication, makes these broken-down ex-employees culpable in their own misfortune.

The hypocrisy in this doesn’t quite lead to a political awakening in Angela as she travels from assignment to assignment.

Instead, Jude shows how the demands of this working life turns the smallest gesture of personal autonomy into an act of defiance. Even a quick after-hours shag with an older man puts her behind the clock and scrambling for excuses. Angela’s creative outlet is a TikTok character called Bobita (Manolache’s own lockdown creation), a wildly offensive Andrew Tate-like caricature, complete with bald head and bushy monobrow filter, whose misogynistic rants are dressed up in the language of a free speech warrior. ‘I’m like Charlie Hebdo, sucker,’ sneers Bobita. It’s funny because Angela doesn’t mean any of it – the opposite – but there’s still a power in this id-splurge that compensates for her lack of it elsewhere. 

Work turns the smallest gesture of personal autonomy into an act of defiance

Jude’s Godardian interest in the way we tell our stories and frame our lives through film sees him intercut it all with scenes from another film: Lucian Bratu’s 1981 film Angela Moves On. A drama about a woman taxi driver in Bucharest that was made under the watchful eye of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s censors, it wears its politics even more lightly. But rubbing up against each other, the two women feel like kin, their struggle to earn a living an equally joyless ride. 

One of them is working under a dictatorship. What if, Jude’s gem of a satire wonders, they both are? 

Available on PVOD Jun 3.

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

Cast and crew

  • Director:Radu Jude
  • Screenwriter:Radu Jude
  • Cast:
    • Uwe Boll
    • Nina Hoss
    • Ilinca Manolache
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