RKS 2023 Film: “Metronom”: Sex, Cognac, Rock and Roll and Romanian Communism

Ana (Mara Bugarin), a senior high school student in 1972 Bucharest, wants to visit her buddy Roxana (Mara Vicol) and a group of friends to listen to music and chat. Mother does not want Ana to go as she has to study for university entrance exams. But being somewhat of a typical teenager Ana defies Mom and heads out to Roxana’s whose parents are away on a business trip.

Yes there is lots of cognac and as the afternoon progresses making out and yes sex! One problem though this is 1972 Romania where listening to capitalist radio, watching corruptive capitalist television or consorting with the foreign press can draw a prison sentence of six years. This repressive society was not unique to Romania at the time but to the U.S.S.R. and most of the Eastern Bloc behind the Iron Curtain. So these typical teenagers out for a good time crack jokes about Nicolae Ceausescu the leader of the Romanian Communist Party and have the audacity to compose a letter to Cornel a DJ with Voice of America and a Romanian defector criticizing the Romanian regime and requesting several American rock n roll songs. His radio show is called Metronom.  My oh my you might say what is wrong with this as why would the Gestapoesque security forces sweep in and detain these “teens are teens”? They are threats to absolute political control!

The security forces tell the teen rebels to write confessions but Ana stubbornly puts up resistance and is hauled in front of good cop bad cop Colonel Boris (Vlad Ivanov) for further interrogation. Does she buckle and face a ruined life and prison sentence? Was there an informant?

A marvelous coming of age story and can we say a political thriller or is it an examination of stupidity of a desperate regime? Or does the Romanian state have the acuity to recognize the extreme danger of sex, cognac and Jim Morrison and the Doors? Perhaps it is a melange? Led Zeppelin records can land you in prison!

Accurate? I was in Romania for a month in 1974. I was tailed by security forces, met with the family of a high-level defector, snuck into a communist youth camp discotheque in Constanta, met with black marketeers and yes even had a fun evening with young guys my age including the son of the Minister of Energy. This film is accurate and is a must watch study in repression which is not restricted to Romania of a different time.

Bugarin does an excellent job as a sultry and defiant Ana as does Vicol as the spirited Roxana. Ivanov as the Colonel is almost likeable at times but essentially a ruthless Ceausescu guard dog.

Winner of Best Director (Alexandru Belc) at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Opening in Canadian theatres 24February2023.

RKS 2023 Film Rating 96/100.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: