4 Proof Film / NYFF
Radu Jude is international cinema’s great anarchic satirist, crafting pointedly political films about his native Romania—and, by extension, our universal state of disarray—with a deliriously free-wheeling go-for-broke spirit. On the heels of 2021’s stellar Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, he returns to take a scalpel to our mad modern condition with Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World, another formally daring odyssey through his homeland that, with thrilling dexterity and acerbic wit, finds a way to mock crass commercialism, cultural misogyny, corporate greed, worker exploitation, bigotry, social media hate, and the many systems and forces conspiring to crush us all.
As with his prior gem, Jude’s expansive, uninhibited latest (making its US premiere at the New York Film Festival, and running a whopping, if fleet, 164 minutes) defies easy synopsis. In present-day Bucharest, production assistant Angela (Ilinca Manolache) works insane hours driving to and fro at the behest of her film-firm superiors. Her current task is interviewing a collection of men and women who were injured while employed by an Austrian multinational, and who are now candidates for a public-service video that the company is making about the need to abide by safety regulations. Angela perpetually navigates the bustling city in her car, and Jude shoots this action in black-and-white, his camera often static in the passenger seat gazing at her (and out the windshield) as she curses at and flips off the sexist men who honk and harass her.
Her arms covered in tattoos, her body decked out in a glittery dress, and her mouth frequently chewing gum, Angela is a tough and indefatigable laborer who knows she’s being used by her bosses but has no choice except to accept her lot in life. As an outlet, she routinely records TikTok and Instagram videos as her alter-ego Bobita, a profane Andrew Tate-loving male chauvinist reactionary that she brings to life via the platforms’ face filters. In these clips, she brags and slanders in the most profane fashion imaginable, be it proclaiming that she’s “picking up some hot stupid cunts who flocked around my Maserati like they hadn’t seen a car before,” praising Putin and vilifying Zelensky as a “two-dime Jew actor,” and riffing, “A cunt is like four countries: Wet like the UK, split in two like Korea, bloody like the Wild West and glad to be fucked like Romania!”