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Hunting Truth on the Romanian Streets

Hunting Truth on the Romanian Streets

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As Jack Nicholson’s character famously proclaimed in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth!” This is what Tavi Ionescu (Șerban Pavlu), the protagonist of Roxanne, discovers, during a meeting with a member of the Romanian secret police, that he might be the father of the son of his ex-girlfriend.

The true strength of Vali Hotea’s feature debut is its subtle transformation into an upside-down surveillance scenario where the hunted becomes the hunter – Tavi’s off-putting discovery leads him on a self-defeating investigation that echoes the very issues Romania had to deal with pre-1989, under the dictatorship of Ceaucescu. Forced to make mature decisions for the first time in his life, Tavi should know better, but for some reason he can’t help himself, and this says something poignant about the situations that Romanians of a certain generation find themselves in.

A story of friendship, betrayal and courage, Roxanne is filmed by Hotea in a matter-of-fact, almost invisible style. It’s entirely set in a present which has not yet escaped its past, a past whose traces might be under the surface, but threaten to bubble to the surface at any point, 25 years later: the wounds remain uncured.

Mark Peranson
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