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The Happiest Girl in the World
3 out of 5 stars
Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Five years after ‘The Death of Mr Lazarescu’ alerted the world that Romanian cinema was alive and happening comes this compact charmer from that film’s assistant director, indicating that the Romanian talent pool shows no sign of drying up. The vibe here is wry comedy-drama, as provincial high-school student Delia scoops a new car in a soft drinks competition and travels with her uptight parents to feature in the product’s latest TV ad. Unfolding over a single day, this witty look at the unglamorous nuts and bolts of screen magic follows the hassled crew’s attempt to complete a simple 35-second slot, except that the combination of inexperienced teenage prize-winner and nit-picking sponsors is not a productive one. They want Andrea Bosneag’s doughty heroine to look as if she’s enjoying chugging down their Day-Glo orange brew, but after umpteen takes and several litres, her enthusiasm is waning…
Although the humour gets slightly stuck in the same furrow, there’s obviously more at stake here, since this pointed vignette evidently encapsulates a society in transition – hence the mum and dad who’ve slaved through the Ceausescu years to support their only daughter now want to sell the shiny new hatchback to finance a countryside B&B. Thankfully, the central metaphor never overwhelms the story, as the teenager refuses to relinquish the car and father sighs a deep sigh. ‘Life is disappointing and youth will pass,’ he says, making one wonder if Yasujiro Ozu is big in Bucharest. Deftly done, and though undoubtedly small in scale, it’s satisfying stuff.