“Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World” (“Nu astepta prea mult de la sfârsitul lumii”)


Metacritic (7/10), Letterboxd (3.5/5), Imdb.com (7/10), TMDB.com (7/10)

Some may find it discouraging to look upon the world with a robustly cynical outlook, yet, given prevailing conditions in the world today, it may sometimes be unavoidable, an attribute reflected in many contexts, including art and cinema. And that’s just what Romanian writer-director Radu Jude has done in his latest feature outing, a biting, darkly satirical comedy-drama that lays bare many of the everyday frustrations that his countrymen experience in areas like politics, corruption and economic opportunities. The film tells this story through the experiences of Angela Raducani (Ilinca Manolache), an overworked, underpaid, sleep-deprived movie production assistant as she struggles to make it through her daily work routine, an unappreciated effort not unlike that thrust upon many contemporary Romanians. To compensate for the tedium of her career and to let off some considerable pent-up steam, Angela makes short videos of her own featuring a foul-mouthed, sexually provocative male alter-ego, Bobitja, who swears like a sailor and describes explicit erotic encounters that would make a porn star blush. She also wrestles with the many self-serving demands of her arrogant Austrian corporate sponsors and a bloated Romanian bureaucracy that proves ineffectual in resolving property ownership issues related to her family’s cemetery plots. Moreover, the picture draws uncanny parallels in the living and working conditions experienced by the nation’s present-day residents with those who lived under the Communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceauşescu in the 1980s, presented here through intercut thematically linked film clips from the 1982 Romanian melodrama “Angela merge mai departe” (“Angela Moves Forward”), the story of a taxi driver whose circumstances mirror those of the beleaguered PA. It all makes for quite an intriguing and engaging mix of story elements, one the holds viewer attention well for about two-thirds of the release, especially in its deliciously bawdy, ribald humor. However, with a 2:43:00 runtime, it becomes somewhat trying as a comedy (and as a movie overall), serving up an excess of almost everything. Unlike comparably long offerings such as “Triangle of Sadness” (2022), which manage to successfully sustain their humor for such a lengthy duration, this effort starts getting repetitive, running out of gas to keep propelling it forward, especially in the somewhat exasperating final half-hour. Like Jude’s previous release, “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” (“Barbardeala cu bucluc sau porno balamuc”) (2021), this outing definitely could have benefitted from some judicious editing, particularly in its endless footage of the protagonist driving through heavy Bucharest traffic. To the filmmaker’s credit, “End of the World” deserves kudos for its irreverence and its ambitious inventiveness and willingness to try the untried, but this is yet another example of a project where the creator fails to kill his darlings, an undertaking that could have been accomplished successfully in lobbing off about 20 minutes of extraneous material, especially in the closing moments. This one is worth a look if you’re willing to be patient with it, as that’s essential to make your way through all the way to the end. But, if you don’t go in with that attitude, you might be expecting too much from the end of the film.