"Hell is other people"
by Vladan Petkovic
30/03/2012 - Everybody in Our Family [trailer, film focus], Radu Jude’s follow-up to The Happiest Girl in the World [trailer] has many of the characteristics the new Romanian cinema, but wraps them into a more violent story than is usually expected of the trend. After Cristi Puiu’s Aurora [trailer], which has a violent spirit but little action, Jude’s film stands out as a strong addition.
Marius (Serban Pavlu, from The Happiest Girl in the World and The Death of Mr Lazarescu [trailer]) is a divorced dentist who goes to his wife’s place to pick up his daughter for the time limited by law - two days - and take her to the seaside. In addition to Otilia (Mihaela Sirbu, from Medal Of Honor [trailer]), five year-old Sofia (Sofia Nicolaescu) lives with her grandma Coca (veteran actress Tamara Buciecanu-Botez) and her mom’s boyfriend Aurel (a familiar face in Romanian film, Gabriel Spahiu, who was last seen in Adalbert's Dream [trailer, film focus]).
Otilia is not home and Marius learns that, on their return trip from Halkidiki the day before, Sofia became nauseous and feverish and she’s still asleep. So getting on the road, which he is so eager for, will not start so soon. When they finally pack, Aurel decides they should wait for Otilia, as Sofia’s legal guardian - the plan was for Marius to take her to the park, not the coast. This is where the trouble starts, and by the end of the film it will turn into almost a hostage situation.
The characters never stop talking - the script by Jude and Corina Sabau consists predominantly of dialogue, as the setting barely changes from the moment Marius gets to the apartment. The camera work and lighting are very direct and clean, as in most recent Romanian films - it was shot by Andrei Butica, cinematographer of Lazarescu and Francesca [trailer]. There is no musical score, and the acting is hyper-realistic, with the little girl the most impressive.
As the film nears its end, the tension rises as frustrated Marius becomes increasingly violent. One might say that he’s an arsehole, but the other characters don’t seem to be much nicer either. While the film evokes Sartre’s famous quote 'Hell is other people', the title comes from Marius explaining to Sofia that “everybody in our family will go to Heaven” - Jude shows that we are all capable of conflict and violence.