Features Live Action Movies

Do Not Expect Too Much
the End of the World
(Nu Astepta Prea Mult
de la Sfârsitul Lumii)

Director – Radu Jude – 2023 – UK – Cert. 18 – 163m


The daily, working life of an overworked production assistant on a corporate film about victims of industrial accident – plays Glasgow Film Festival which runs from Wednesday, February 28th to Sunday, March 10th, and is out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 8th

Angela (Ilinka Manolache) wakes in her mess of an apartment. Another busy day of overwork. She drives to the homes of serial, prospective interviewees for the corporate film on which she is currently working as a production assistant to evaluate their suitability for the film and take mobile phone videos of them herself.

Whenever she gets a spare moment, she posts on TikTok using a filter that changes her head into that of a man, and under the name Bobita posts colourful and sweary, verbal rants about the British Royal family and other topics. Suffering from sleep deprivation, she dozes during the afternoon production meeting and keeps the radio on while driving to prevent sleeping at the wheel.

Towards the end of the day, she finds time for an in-car assignation with her lover, but that doesn’t last long as she has to go and pick up the production’s corporate commissioning marketing person Doris Goethe (Nina Hoss), direct descendant of the famous writer, from the airport. She complains about the overwork, bullshitting “but not on this production, this is eight hours a day”. Welcome to the film business.

This is in black and white and takes up the first two hours, much of which consists of driving, some of it in heavy traffic or gridlock. Interspersed throughout are extracts of colour production Angela Moves On (Lucien Bratu, 1981) in which taxi driver Angela (Dorina Lazar) goes about her working day, confronted by sexist attitudes of the time and accompanied by a contemporary, early 1980s music score. The two films emphasise each other’s differences. What was acceptable to show in 1981 and what is acceptable to show today: the two very different sets of production values tell their own stories.

The contemporary footage, as in director Jude’s earlier Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (2021), seems to capture things as they are now. Manolache is clearly acting, though she appears equally to be driving in real traffic and having real run-ins with real life motorists. (The earlier film was notable for its portrayal of mask-wearing life under pandemic conditions, simply because that was what was happening at the time.) Her Tik-Tok vids are satire, a way of dealing with the absurdity of the way things are now, and she has amassed 20 000 followers. At one point, she persuades prolific director Uwe Boll (playing himself) to appear in one of them.

The final forty minutes comprises one long, unbroken, locked-off camera, colour take of an interview staged for the corporate movie within the movie (not to be confused with the Angela Moves On movie within the movie). Ovidiu Bucă (who is gently persuaded not to use his surname because it sounds not unlike ‘fart’ in the language of the target audience) has been in a wheelchair since the night he left his shift in the dark and a car crashed into a barrier gate sending its iron pole crashing into his head and putting him into a 13-month coma.

But with Doris’ corporate concerns, the story is watered down phrase by phrase until the iron bar in the background has been removed (it would show the company in a bad light) and his statement has been reduced to serial, black, green screen cards onto which his verbal statements could be added in post-production. Which could, as his mother objects, say anything the production or the company want them to say.

The scabrous black humour on display isn’t the sort to make you laugh out loud, at least, not most of the time, but it may well get you thinking. There’s something intensely human and likeable about the foul-mouthed Angela who somehow manages to get the impossible done, just as there is something likeable about her cleaner-spoken, 1981 taxi driver namesake. Jude proves that his previous effort wasn’t the one off that the cynical among us might have suspected: he possesses a discernible (if highly unorthodox) style, and although this film is wildly different from Bad Luck, it’s recognisably the work of the same talent. He remains highly idiosyncratic and divisive – those easily offended are unlikely to warm to the films, and yet, for anyone prepared to roll with his punches, his singular perspective on the world confirms his unique, cinematic voice.

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the Worldplays Glasgow Film Festival which runs from Wednesday, February 28th to Sunday, March 10th, and is out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 8th.


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