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Romanian Film Festival - Periferic

Monday 26 November 2012, by Tilly Lunken

Established in 2003, The Romanian Film Festival is in its 9th year and is continuing to bring the best of Romanian films to a wider audience. Periferic (aka. Outbound) is the debut feature film from the New York based Romanian filmmaker Bogdan George Apetri. Matilda is given a twenty-four hour release from prison to attend her estranged mother’s funeral and uses the opportunity to execute an escape plan.

What Apertri essentially does is capture a day in the life of this woman. This is a character based film and through the action that occurs and her encounters with the three most important men in her life we gain a deeper understanding of who she is, what she has been and why she wants to leave.

Lead actress Ana Ularu delivers a tremendous performance as Matilda. She insists “actresses always want to play the loving mother, but it’s a trick … [we are] not interested in something that is to going to exercise us in anyway.” It is clear that she relished the chance to play such a character. A character that she describes as “dehumanised in everyway” proves mesmerising portrait on screen.

The film as a whole has a strong forward momentum but the steady pace isn’t frantic, much like its central character it is focused. In many ways we experience it all through her perspective, a fact which is reinforced with lovely symbolic corridor shots that echo her life on the inside. When this base-line intensity is punctured occasionally by moments of unexpected violence and humour they jump out as if they escaped from her control.

Using the technique “bleach bypass” Apertri filters our reception of this world with a limited colour palette. It is beautiful and the light washes over it with “a cold looking sun… [but] it’s not hot because it is summer, it’s hot because it is hell.” It’s an interesting effect because it delivers sharp lines in close up and yet smudges the edges of the wider frame, much like memory. In many ways this stylistic decision actually delivers a more authentic, more real manifestation of the action. This perhaps isn’t the act of seeing unfolding action; it could be memory. Whatever it is, it is it feels an incredibly personal to the lead character.

As we leave Matilda at the end of the film, the question is open – not complete. As she stares defiantly at the sunrise, we are left wondering what life will throw next at this woman, but as Ana says “she’s still standing” so whatever it is, we know she’ll survive.

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