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TRANSYLVANIA

Director: TONY GATLIF

FRANCE| 2006. SUBTITLED. COLOUR. ANAMORPHIC. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 103 MIN.


IN TRANSYLVANIA CULT DIVA ASIA ARGENTO TAKES TO THE AGITATED UNIVERSE OF ROMANY FILM-MAKER TONY GATLIF LIKE A DUCK TO WATER.

The latest of French-based Gatlif’s ventures into the world of Gypsy and Eastern European culture, Transylvania is at once romance, road movie, ethnological celebration and vehicle for the unshackled ball of emotive frenzy that is Argento at full tilt. She plays Zingarina, a young woman who has arrived from France, accompanied by her friend Marie (Amira Casar) and local guide Luminitsa (Alexandra Beaujard), in search of her lover Milan (Marco Castoldi), who has suddenly vanished, leaving her pregnant. When Milan, a Byronically swaggering musician, turns up, he promptly rejects Zingarina, sending her into a spectacular emotional meltdown—which involves much drunken plate-breaking to musical accompaniment at a local bar. Although Marie tries to hustle her back to France, Zingarina prefers to go on her own voyage of discovery, first with a little Gypsy girl, then in tandem with Tchangalo (wolfishly charismatic Birol Ünel from Head-On), an adventurer who’s trying to get a package of silver and gold to Germany.

Like many Gatlif films, this is a drama about a non-Romany undergoing a sort of Gypsification of the soul—learning to travel without passport, borders or fixed identity. Zingarina, who before long adopts traditional Gypsy garb, learns to love the life of the road—and not a linear road, either. This is not specifically a film about Gypsies but about a certain hybrid quality of Eastern European identity: a celebration of Transylvania as a mixture of Romanian, Gypsy and Hungarian cultures.—Jonathan Romney/’Screen International’.

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