English Title: Silent Wedding
Original Title: Nunta muta
Country: Romania, Luxembourg, France
Language: Romanian, Russian
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Horatiu Malaele
Music: Alexandru Andries
Cinematography: Vivi Dragan Vasile
Meda Andreea Victor
Ioana Anastasia Anton
Actor-turned-director Horatiu Malaele’s debut feature, jumping on the bandwagon of Romanian New Wave movement in the noughties, SILENT WEDDING abandons itself to its categorically anti-Soviet ideologue nearly at the expense of a galvanizing story.
The frame story is set in the present day Romania, a TV crew specializing in paranormal stories, arrives in a desolate area used to be a Communist factory, affected by a spine-tingling frisson whipped up by the presence of a ghostly bride and the remnant old women-in-black there, a witness recounts the harrowing extirpation of the village to build the factory in 1953, the year when Joseph Stalin died.
A joyous and rumbustious flashback makes heavy weather about its bucolic landscape and community, peopled by foul-mouthed but overall congenial countryfolk, amongst which a pair of young lovers Mara (Andreea Victor) and Iancu (Potocean) are going to get married (their mutual orgasm is rendered in exhilarating high pitch). Concomitantly Malaele threads farcical episodes of Communist party recruitment (highlighted by slo-motion and slapstick antics) into the through-line, where an event of open-air cinema is interrupted by a passing circus, whose own hilarity is sequentially, abruptly bookended by a tragic death of a young village girl (implied at the hands of a Russian type) and the departure of Iancu’s best friend, the homunculus Sile (Palin).
On that wedding day, bad tidings is brought by a Soviet officer that due to the death of Stalin the night before, the whole country is entering a 7-days mourning, wedding is forbidden, anyone who revolts will be executed with high treason. Thus, it triggers the “silent wedding”, a weighty defiance against authoritarianism, the film reaches its winning apotheosis in the collectively endeavored cooperation to not make any jarring noise in their covert celebration, including using cloth-wrapped glasses, eating with one’s hands instead of crockery, miming and mouthing wedding toasts, the wedding band playing silently and a chuckle-some message-passing skit, et al., until a final moment of liberation that sounds their death knell, the authority is as good as his words.
That theatrical kicker (embellished with a surreal touch), to some degree, negates the film’s prior effort of ingenuity by veering into an easy route to meet its prefigured perdition and its wraith-of-the-past coda. An anomaly repulsing the post-Cold War ethos, SILENT WEDDING, although errs on the side of its own militancy, lands on its feet in its grassroots advocacy and comedic appeal.