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Cannes Film Festival: with “RMN”, Christian Mungiu portrays a xenophobic Romania

Christian Mungiu is a regular on the Croisette where he has presented all his films, winning three awards, including the Palme d’Or for 4 months, 3 weeks, 12 days in 2007. It could be different this year, as long NMR disconcerts by its lack of balance between the chronicle of a Romanian village and the denunciation of the xenophobia which reigns there.

Mathias returns from Germany to his small Romanian village, after having fled his job, following a violent mishap. He finds his son disturbed by a vision, his companion who takes care of him, his sick father and his former mistress. When the local industrial bakery recruits foreigners, the population launches a petition to send them home. The apparent civil peace between the Romanian, Hungarian and German communities is shattered.

In all his films, Christian Mungiu explores Romanian society. After abortion, the Ceausescu years, religion and education, he is now tackling the xenophobia that plagues the country following the wave of migration in recent years. The title NMR. designates Romania, as on a license plate. It is therefore to the evocation of a global Romania to which he invites us, through a particular case. The balance sheet is not glorious, the film either.

Open to the mysterious vision of a frightened child in the forest, RMM then follows Mathias who finds his world and especially his son to whom he wants to devote himself, but embarrassed by his mother, when he prefers an ex-mistress. The film gets bogged down in the chronicle of this snowy village, shot through with successive harmless anecdotes from which no dramaturgy emerges. Why not ? But one wonders where Mungiu is coming from with this pearl necklace, with repetitive episodes. Until the main subject emerges, finally: the radical opposition of the population to the presence of three foreigners in the village.

This is the most interesting part of the film, with a remarkable town meeting scene, played by obviously non-professional actors. But what an imbalance in the construction and the rhythm of the film. The final scene, with actors dressed as rather ridiculous bears, gives the final blow to what turns out to be the worst film by an otherwise remarkable filmmaker.

Marin Grigore in "NMR" by Christian Mongiu (2022).  (THE PACT)

Gender : Drama
Director: Christian Mungiu
Actors: Marin Grigore, Judith State, Macrina Bârlădeanu
Country : Romania / France / Belgium
Duration : 2h05
Exit : shortly
Distributer : The pact

Summary: A few days before Christmas, Matthias is back in his native, multi-ethnic village in Transylvania, after quitting his job in Germany. He is worried about his son, Rudi, who is growing up without him, for his father, Otto, left alone and he wants to see Csilla, his ex-girlfriend, again. He tries to get more involved in the education of the boy who has remained too long in the care of his mother, Ana, and wants to help him overcome his irrational anxieties. When the factory that Csilla manages decides to recruit foreign employees, the peace of the small community is disturbed, anxieties also affect the adults. Frustrations, conflicts and passions resurface, shattering the semblance of peace in the community.

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