A movie review of “When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism”: Corneliu Porumboiu makes yet another film — this one about a filmmaker and his lead actress — in which the more is said, the less is clear.
Corneliu Porumboiu makes films in which talk leads to obfuscation. “12:08 East of Bucharest” hinges on a debate over whether revolutionary action took place in a small Romanian city in 1989. “Police, Adjective” climaxes with an argument over how literally the law should apply to an insignificant hashish bust.
The cumbersomely titled “When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism” is also a movie in which the more is said, the less is clear. Paul (Bogdan Dumitrache), a filmmaker, is first seen driving with his lead actress, Alina (Diana Avramut), telling her that they will shoot a nude scene the next day. “You’ll thank me in 50 years,” he says, adding, contradictorily, that nobody will watch movies then.
Everything is becoming digital, Paul explains. While celluloid limits every shot to 11 minutes, with digital it will be possible to make an argument last 20 or 30 minutes, “like in reality.”
‘When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism,’ with Bogdan Dumitrache, Diana Avramut. Written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu. 89 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. In Romanian, with English subtitles. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
These remarks are a guide to watching Porumboiu’s self-reflexive film, shot on celluloid and consisting of only 17 shots. All run less than 11 minutes, and most involve arguments — though the truth in each scene remains ambiguous.
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Paul and Alina, romantically involved, dissemble frequently. He strains to rationalize the nude scene. She feigns ignorance when they meet another director whose work she admires.
Even footage of an endoscopy, as gruesomely intimate as a movie can get, fails to settle a question (of whether Paul is lying about a digestive ailment). “You can think what you like,” Paul says. That sentiment applies to Porumboiu’s dryly funny, enigmatic new work.