The Romanian laborer, Matthias, works as a slaughterhouse worker in Germany. One day, during a break, he headbutts his supervisor, who insulted him by calling him a lazy gypsy. Without waiting for dismissal, Matthias returns to his hometown in Transylvania. There, he finds an unloved wife, a beloved mistress, a seriously ill father, and a young son who witnessed something so frightening in the woods that he stopped speaking. Matthias must now deal with all of this and somehow rebuild his life, but there is a lack of job opportunities in the village. Although there are vacancies at the local bakery, nobody applies due to the low wages. In response, the factory owners hire migrants from Sri Lanka, sparking a scandal that rouses the entire village against the newcomers.
The film was directed by Cristian Mungiu, a representative of the so-called “Romanian New Wave.” Having watched his previous film, “Graduation,” it seems that his favorite trick is to embellish the plot with intricacies that, while seemingly adding tension, don’t significantly impact the story. In this film, he presents a clear drama about xenophobia but inexplicably adds a mystical element related to Matthias’ son’s silence and an ambiguous ending that left me puzzled. However, these elements don’t detract from the overall impression of the film; I enjoyed it nonetheless. The film effectively portrays the hypocritical nature of hatred towards immigrants: the villagers demand the expulsion of innocent migrants, yet they themselves work en masse in Germany, Poland, and other countries as “foreigners.” This complex could be easily transposed into our own reality. The scene where villagers air their grievances against the mayor during a community meeting feels incredibly familiar, as if reading comments on a Russian forum.
The director avoids providing clear judgments. The Sri Lankans are portrayed as friendly individuals, and the locals’ perspectives are also understandable, or at least one can attempt to comprehend them. The film unfolds effortlessly and pleasantly, with social issues seemingly dissolving into a leisurely narrative about the daily life and customs of Transylvanians, which, despite being part of Romania, remains a distinct and beautiful place. The musical theme borrowed from Karavaev’s “Love Mood” deserves special mention, earning the creators two extra points – one for the melody and another for the audacity with which they appropriated it. IMDb (7.2)