RMN: A masterful but chilling allegory of Europe.

A brilliant X-ray of a small village in Transylvania, this new work by Romanian Cristian Mingiu also imposes itself as a very pertinent critique of the modern world.


A young man abruptly quits his job in Germany to return to his native hamlet in Transylvania and spend time with his son, who has been rendered mute after a traumatic shock. In the village, tensions arise when the local industrial bakery hires foreign workers in order to receive EU subsidies

Cristian Mungiu became known to Swiss film buffs with his second feature film “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”, winner of the Palme D’or at Cannes in 2007. A regular at the place, he will still win various prizes with his following works such as “Beyond the Hills” or “Baccalauréat”. Except for the projects on which he was only a producer, screenwriter or co-director, only this “RMN” left there unfairly empty-handed. The film nevertheless contains many qualities, both in substance and in form, that other works awarded this year did not have…

To fully understand this last film, however, it should be put into context. The director chose to place his story in the heart of Transylvania, not for the importance that the region holds in the collective unconscious, but for its political particularity. Transylvania is a bit, as he himself explains, the Alsace-Lorraine of Romania. A region that has always been disputed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Romania and once inhabited by Germans or Roma. In “RMN” therefore, there is no Vlad The Impaler, gloomy castles in ruins or vampires but rather a multitude of individuals of different nationalities expressing themselves sometimes in Romanian, Hungarian, German or French and English, depending on their origin. or everyone’s education. A scene is also very impressive in this regard. At some point, almost all of the main and supporting roles are brought together in one shot. It lasts 17 minutes, without cuts and 26 actors intervene successively or often, at the same time… in different languages!

Crucial in terms of the progression of the plot and the development of the characters, impressive in terms of the direction of actors but yet rudimentary in terms of cinematographic means (a set/a fixed camera), the sequence in question is a brilliant demonstration of the mastery of the filmmaker and the accuracy of his staging. Rather than cutting at will, alternating close-ups and wide shots or shaking his camera in all directions and for no particular reason, the director chooses economy and favors efficiency. The result is convincing. All the difficulties of cohibition of the protagonists, their ancestral animosity, their inability to get along or even listen to each other are crystallized in this great moment of cinema. It goes without saying, however, that the filmmaker would not have reached this intensity without the decisive contribution of his actors, professionals for the main roles and amateurs for the others, all amazing and crying out for the truth. The scene alone symbolizes and sums up the whole film, always as relevant in form as in content.

Cristian Mungiu says he wanted, with “RMN” (or “IRM” in French for “magnetic resonance imaging”), to operate, as in medicine, to an investigation of the brain, a brain scanner supposed to detect the mysteries buried under the surface. This brain is here as much that of the villagers of this small hamlet of Transylvania as of all the citizens of Europe and the world. The director examines this global entity, this continent which is divided into nations, these countries which separate into clans, these circles which are divided and still restricted to finally withdraw into themselves and die. He questions the tolerance of some in the face of the differences of others, wonders about the collateral damage of political correctness and above all, probes without condemning.

The result is relentless and brilliant.

NMR
Romania, France, Belgium – 2022 – 125min – Drama
By Cristian Mungiu
With Marin Grigore, Judith State, Macrina Barladeanu…
Cineworx
16.11.2022 at the cinema

RMN: A masterful but chilling allegory of Europe. – Daily Movies