Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

LOCARNO REVIEW | The Real-Time "Best Intentions" is One Man's Anxiety, Many Points of View

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Indiewire August 12, 2011 at 1:42AM

In "Best Intentions," a real-time family drama in which a young man continually worries about his mother's health, the tension fluctuates but never sits still. Following up his 2008 directorial debut "Hooked," Romanian filmmaker Adrian Sitaru constructs a temporally complex psychological thriller, mixing contemporary Romanian realist traditions with a thoughtful subjective technique.
1

In "Best Intentions," a real-time family drama in which a young man continually worries about his mother's health, the tension fluctuates but never sits still. Following up his 2008 directorial debut "Hooked," Romanian filmmaker Adrian Sitaru constructs a temporally complex psychological thriller, mixing contemporary Romanian realist traditions with a thoughtful subjective technique.

The story concerns expectations more than follow-through, so the stakes are always uncertain. However, it compensates for the lack of a strong payoff with unique insight into irrational behavior.

The anxious man in question is Budapest resident Alex (Bogdan Dumitrache), a mid-30s head case first seen squabbling with his girlfriend about her cleaning habits. His anal retentiveness lands a much bigger target moments later, when he gets a call from his father announcing that his mother (Natasa Raab) has been sent to the hospital after a stroke. Initially frozen in shock, Alex slowly pulls himself together and heads for the train station.

The journey is a slow one. Alex makes small talk with a nosy train passenger and calls his father for more details. Here Sitaru introduces his bold narrative device: The passenger is the first of many people whose point of view merges with our own, as the director turns head-cams into the guiding motif. Throughout the movie, many such angles are used, but never from Alex's perspective. Sitaru delves into the nature of anxiety by stepping outside it, while providing a constant reminder that all behavior is in the eye of the beholder.

Alex always feels convinced he has reason for concern. He arrives at the hospital to find his doped-up mom drifting in and out of lucidity. Coping with his father's resigned attitude and a colorful group of hospital inmates, Alex can't sit still. He goes head to head with his mother's easygoing doctor and begins insisting that he move her to another hospital. "The first 24 hours are crucial!" he moans, not only talking about his mother's health but unconsciously referencing his sanity as well.

The night passes without incident and Alex's mother starts to improve, but he remains sick with uneasiness. He can't find a way to turn off his jitters and begins to lash out, eventually becoming ostracized by the people he intends to help. "You believe all the morons," he tells his parents when they insist that all is well. Over time, he starts to slow down and slip up, worsening a situation that has begun to improve and realizing that he could critique his behavior as well anyone else.

Like many Romanian movies of the moment, "Best Intentions" invests heavily in the feeling of time passing. With its organic construction of a hospital environment, the movie begs comparison to "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu," although its interests are less grim. With Alex's mother in recovery for most of the running time, "Best Intentions" shifts focus from the illness to its lasting effect on Alex as he comes to grips with the mortality of his loved ones.

In this regard, the ongoing POV shots externalize his emotional transition. Always wide-eyed and on the brink of argument, he refuses to admit his inner frailty and projects it onto others. The movie ends with him as anxious as ever, but more self-aware. While lacking a precise resolution, "Best Intentions" concludes on the brink, one phone call away from disaster -- or at least one man's anticipation of it.

criticWIRE grade: B+

HOW WILL IT PLAY? A committed North American distributor could help ride the art-house interest in recent Romanian films and gain a decent reception for "Best Intentions" in limited release at theaters kind to this type of material like New York's Film Forum, although its long-term commercial prospects are relatively slim.

This article is related to: Reviews, Locarno International Film Festival






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More