In Romania, corruption is the dominant evil. Representatives of law and science are no exception. On the contrary, they are its agents and beneficiaries.
Contemporary Romanian cinema is populated by doctors and policemen. We think of Baccalaureate by Cristian Mungiu or the Whistlers by Corneliu Porumboiu. These professions offer perfect, or rather imperfect, fallible archetypes for films that x-ray society and its ills. In Romania, corruption is the dominant evil. Representatives of law and science are no exception. On the contrary, they are its agents and beneficiaries. In mazes, third feature film by Bogdan George Apetri, it is therefore hardly surprising to come across men in white coats and men in uniform, even if they are most often in civilian clothes. Her heroine, however, belongs to another community.
Cristina is a young novice retired to a monastery. We discover it during an opening scene that looks like a conspiracy. A nun lends him a cell phone. A taxi is waiting for him. He must take her secretly to the city hospital. That first car ride – mazes counts several – gives an overview of Apetri’s staging. He proceeds by long sequence shots.
The characters have time to chat with a confusing naturalness – we must salute the excellence of the cast and the direction of the actors. This dilation of time, this way of dwelling on “dead times” have proven their effectiveness. There is no better way to build suspense or unease. The seemingly banal conversation covers something unsaid, a secret. To the taxi driver and the doctor riding beside her, Cristina lies about the real reason that obliges her to go to the hospital. Apetri unveils it sparingly, without explanatory dialogues. We are grateful to him for not chewing up the work on the viewer.
Cover the tracks
Cristina’s journey back to the monastery is done in almost perfect symmetry. Except that the taxi driver, different from the one on the way out, under his airs of a brave guy in love with variety, turns out to be a rapist of incredible savagery. The scene, yet another sequence shot, leaves the main part of the crime off-screen, but not the screams. It freezes the blood. mazes then picks up where it started, at the monastery. A police inspector investigates the attack on Cristina, who is in a coma. Over the interrogations, we guess the link that unites him to the victim. Until a final scene which can evoke that of the Seven by David Fincher. Or maybe not. Apetri blurs the tracks, at the risk of giving the impression of not knowing how to conclude.
mazes is a rather emphatic title. Apetri’s thriller is more linear than it seems. As addictive and masterful as it is, it may not be as labyrinthine or complex as it would like – the international title, Miracle, is hardly better. On a similar subject, The Night of 12 seems more modest and less spectacular. Dominik Moll’s film, released last Wednesday, is however much more dizzying and moving.
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