Eastern Business, dir. Igor Cobileanski │Eastern Business is the second feature film by Moldovian writer-director Igor Cobileanski. It premiered internationally in Tallinn Black Nights’ main competition and won two awards: Cobileanski for Best Screenplay, and Ion Sapdaru and Constantin Puscasu both for Best Actor.
Marian (Puscasu) is an academically trained singer who lives in small town Moldova, where the houses are shabby, vodka glasses are huge, laws are flexible, and everybody is on a lookout for some money. Marian is a bit naïve and seems almost unfit for that place. But like others, he is also interested in earning some easy cash – in order to marry his sweetheart Veronica (Anna Marie Chertic)- so he comes up with the plan to resell 50,000 horseshoes.
As the main reason behind the things happening in this film is money, it is also cash that brings Marian together with Petro (Sapdaru), a man in a dirty vest who loves a drink and, unlike Marian, does not refrain from any dirty deeds to make a profit. The two embark on a road trip through Moldova where they encounter, amongst others, an immoral politician, a thief with some interesting ideas on how to quit smoking, and an alcoholic driver who gives inspiration for another business plan.
The awarded actors are great portraying the main characters. Sapdaru is perfect as the clever and deceiving Petro who knows every little trick on how to make things easier for himself, while Puscasu subtly conveys the child-like romanticism and sensitivity of inexperienced Marian who is having a hard time telling lies for his own benefit – at least in the beginning. Petro has learned to go with the flow, while Marian, only trying to tip his toe in the river, gets suddenly swept away by the current.
Cobileanski approaches the story through the ironic yet genial point of view. It does not judge its characters but rather makes the viewers root for them even when not all (almost everything, to be more precise) they do is quite ethical. In this impoverished society, people have become more creative and self-absorbed in methods of making a living., This feels natural in the film and is also the main catalyst behind the comic moments that are supported and enhanced by little details, such as businessmen wearing tracksuit pants with leather jackets, hacks for cheating the alcohol test, or immigrants coming to Moldova and not realising that “here bad, not good”.
Eastern Business makes for a great road-movie, and unlike many of its Western counterparts, in this one the opposite characters do not bond over mutually shared experiences, honesty does not win and the justice does not prevail. It is instead much closer to the real life, whether we like it or not. And even when the characters do not have fun, the viewers definitely do.■
│In cooperation with│
Eastern Business / Afacerea est │ Director: Igor Cobileanski │ Screenplay: Igor Cobileanski │ Camera: Feliksas Abrukauskas │ Editing: Razvan Ilinca, Eugen Kelemen │ Music: -│ Cast: Ion Sapdaru, Constantin Puscasu, Daniel Busuioc │ Producer: Iuliana Tarnovetchi, Oana Prata, Dagne Vildziunaite │ Production Company: Alien Film / Just A Moment │Country: Romania / Lithuania│ Year: 2016│ Running Time: 84 min.│ International Sales: – │ Festival: Tallinn Black Nights FF 2016│