I saw Cristian Mungiu‘s Graduation (Sundance Selects, 4.8) in Cannes about ten months ago. The great Mungiu, who shared the Best Director prize last May with Personal Shopper‘s Olivier Assayas, won’t be doing face-time interviews in Los Angeles. (Maybe phoners, I’m told.) My memory’s gone a little stale so I’m catching it again tonight at 7:30 pm.
But I’d see it again under any circumstance. All Mungiu films gain with repeated viewings. I’ve seen Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days four or five times, and I could watch it again right now.
“Conversation With A Master“, posted from Cannes on 5.20.16:
I spoke this afternoon with renowned Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, whose ethical drama Graduation (a.k.a. Bacalaureat) was universally praised after screening yesterday morning. I called it “a fascinating slow-build drama about ethics, parental love, compromised values and what most of us would call soft corruption.”
We discussed the film’s view of things, which is basically how capitulating to soft corruption can seem at first like nothing but that it can slightly weaken your fibre and make you susceptible to harder forms down the road.
Accepting and living with a certain amount of soft corruption is par for the course in my realm. It greases the wheels in this and that way. If you’re at all involved with the hurly burly, you know the truth of this. “This world is so full of crap you’re going to get into it whether you’re careful or not” — a quote from what film?
I mentioned a story I passed along yesterday about my father having persuaded a Rutgers professor to give him a passing grade despite having failed a final exam, which was definitely a soft ethical lapse. Mungiu smiled and said, “Life is complicated.”
Graduation director Cristian Mungiu — Friday, 5.20, 2:30 pm.
We talked about Cristian’s two kids, ages 6 and 11, and the mostly older films he’s been showing them. Mungiu feels it’s better to expose them to classic silents at an early age before they become accustomed to today’s noisier, faster fare and lose the patience to absorb the artistry of Buster Keaton.
We talked about his association with the Dardennes brothers, who are among the producers of Graduation. The film was also produced by Mungiu’s Mobra Films, Pascal Caucheteux and Grégoire Sorlat of Why Not Productions, Vincent Maraval of Wild Bunch, and Jean Labadie of Le Pacte.
I mentioned the enormous respect that he earned after 4 Months, 3 Weeks 2 Days and Beyond The Hills, and whether he might consider making a film with American actors, and if he’s been reluctant to do this out of concern that his vision and way of working might be diluted or compromised by this. His answer was more or less “yeah, kind of” but that it’s entirely possible that the right actors with the right attitude might be a fit.
Mungiu also explained that he doesn’t do “coverage” (master shots, over-the-shoulder shots) when he shoots, and that this might be an issue should he collaborate with American producers.