Romanian Hot Topics

August 01, 2014  |  By Lucius Cary V, United States


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Filantropica is a 2002 Romanian film directed by Nae Caranfil. The plot of the film follows a teacher named Ovidiu Gorea, as he joins a scamming operation to create a luxury lifestyle for. This, of course, is all for the attention of the opposite sex. However in the end (spoiler alert!), this all backfires on him and he is forced to marry a woman he doesn't love and becomes property of this operation of scammers. 

From viewing this film in 2014 instead of the original release date, which was 2002, I can compare it to a slightly darker and way more Romanian The Wolf of Wall Street. There are differences in detail but the plot line seems to follow the same route.

Guy is unsatisfied with present earnings.

Guy finds corrupt way to make more earnings.


Except in Filantropica, Gorea becomes the property of an underground scam organization instead of going to prison for a little while.

The film has been categorized by the good people of Wikipedia as a "Dark Comedy". This much can be agreed, with the film's most popular scene/joke being the scam where Gorea and his partner pretend to not be able to pay a restaurant bill, which attracts pity from richer customers, who pay the bill for them. Other online sources describe the film as a "comedy" or "black humor". So overall it is agreed that the film is humorous. 

The film may be funny, but it also touches upon some key points in the society and culture of Romania. The first point and the most obviously apparent in the film is the Gypsy/ beggar situation. In any large city there is always a problem with homeless and beggars. This is a fact of life. However, Scams are another problem in there own. I myself have probably been scammed when traveling, about three times. Thankfully, never very much money is lost. Unfortunately, these scams, have given me a negative view of all beggars. This is simply because I, and all other travelers, have no way of knowing if we are being scammed or not.

This brings on the question. Does Filantropica present a negative view of people in poverty? I personally would answer that question with "yes". A teacher who is not living below the poverty line, joins an underground organization of scammers so he can corruptly gain a life of luxury. So, this film would make people more reluctant to give money to beggars or people in need, due to fear of paying for a wealthy man to take an underaged girl out to dinner.

Through this topic being addressed in the film, the audience can see a general theme of greed. However, the second (but equally important) theme is sex. This involves the role of Diana. A young, beautiful teenager who Gorea is infatuated with. This attraction for an underaged girl, based solely on looks, and the revelation that the second female character in the film (Miruna) as a prostitute links into the trafficking problem that Romania has established in the last decade.

Over the years a growing population of Romanian women are brought into trafficking as prostitutes in other countries. Despite the growing popularity in this, no laws have made to reduce this trafficking. The film forces this topic onto its audience by creating unlikeable female characters that are just used and wanted for the purpose of sex. This forces the question. Should laws be enforced on this growing business?

Although goofy at some scenes, the film has received quite positive reviews from the public, scoring an 8.6 out of 10 on the IMDb website. In a more professional opinion, the film has earned awards such as The Public Prize at The French Film Festival, and the critic James Wegg gives the film a three out of four stars after reviewing it at The Palm Springs International Film Festival. His review stayed generally positive, with: "the film is thought provoking, blessed with a knowing camera and a gypsy-esque score composed and performed by Marius Mihalache that adds much to the pace."

This much I agree with. The film is entertaining, while touching upon hot topics in romanian society. However, He also made a steady point which is also agreeable in the fact that the film is really predictable: "just fifteen minutes from the end—there were not a few of us who could have left then and there with enough of the story resolved to our satisfaction."

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