Do Not Expect Too Much Of The End of the World

*****

Reviewed by: Liza Alpaidze

Do Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The World
"Jude masterfully keeps the audience attached to the screen for almost three hours without relying on heightened tensions or conventional plot twists." | Photo: Courtesy of London Film Festival

Have you ever felt so sad that it made you burst into uncontrollable laughter? That's precisely the emotional rollercoaster Radu Jude's latest picture, Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World, takes you on. The Romanian director skillfully captures the injustice, inhumanity and absurdity of modern-day capitalism through the life of Angela (Ilinca Manolache), an overworked, sleep-deprived production assistant at a Romanian company serving Austrian clients. Angela is on a quest to find people injured at the firm’s worksites to feature in a safety video.

Jude opts for a dual narrative, intertwining Angela's present-day struggles with scenes from the 1981 picture Angela Moves On by Lucian Bratu. This method illustrates the parallel challenges faced by two overworked women named Angela, one in Ceaușescu-era Romania and the other in the contemporary period. Despite the absence of Ceaușescu, Jude’s film suggests that the fundamental issues, including sexism and social inequality, persist in the country.

The director skilfully uses various visuals and textures, to mirror the chaos of modern life, which often drowns us in a sea of visual content and information. While scenes from Angela Moves On boast a colourful Eighties palette, the modern-day Angela's world is portrayed in black and white with a grainy texture. Zoom calls, Angela's phone perspective, and her satirical TikTok account add layers to the narrative. The latter features a male alter ego, Bobita, an alt-right-winger similar to Andrew Tate, injecting colour into Angela's otherwise bleak life. As Angela's exhaustion intensifies, her satirical videos become increasingly absurd and vulgar, serving as a stark contrast to her reality.

The film is rife with cinematic references, with the most prominent being the influence of Jean-Luc Godard, particularly Breathless. Jude mimics Godard's use of abrupt transitions between extended scenes and brief shots. For instance, a scene where Angela walks through a cemetery with her mom brings to mind Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg strolling the streets of Paris. While Godard aimed to find a place for French cinema in the American-dominated film world, Jude contemplates its broader purpose in our content-saturated world.

Jude, like a magician, seamlessly connects the 1981 and the present day, reintroducing characters who now play the parents of a person injured at work, selected for the safety video. The story concludes with a prolonged, locked shot of the family being filmed uncomfortably, inducing a sense of entrapment or claustrophobia for the audience. As time passes, the production team becomes more subjective, questioning the very existence of reality in cinema. Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World ends with the frustrated family and an audience aware that, despite the money they receive for the video appearance, their reality may become even worse – a reflection of the harsh realities faced by many in Western capitalism.

Jude masterfully keeps the audience attached to the screen for almost three hours without relying on heightened tensions or conventional plot twists. His unusual humor, coupled with references from films, literature, or reality, serve as a poignant reminder that certain things, such as the irresponsibility of big corporations, the way Western European nations leverage the social challenges of post-Soviet countries for their own benefit, and how easily individuals can be manipulated in the modern capitalist world, can be simultaneously funny, sad, and petrifying.

Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World is a cinematic journey that transcends the conventional boundaries of storytelling, leaving viewers introspective about the complex and multifaceted nature of the human experience.

Reviewed on: 08 Dec 2023
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Overworked and underpaid, Angela drives around the city of Bucharest to film the casting for a 'safety at work video' commissioned by a multinational company. When one of the interviewees reveals the company’s liability in his accident, a scandal erupts.

Read more Do Not Expect Too Much Of The End of the World reviews:

Nikola Jovic ***1/2

Director: Radu Jude

Writer: Radu Jude

Starring: Ilinca Manolache, Ovidiu Pîrșan, Nina Hoss, Dorina Lazăr, László Miske, Katia Pascariu

Year: 2023

Runtime: 163 minutes

Country: Romania, Luxembourg, France, Croatia


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