★★★★★ Transylvania

What do you do when the person you want so badly doesn’t want you, even when you’re pregnant and have travelled across Europe to find him? That’s the basic premise of this film – what happens afterwards…

ingarina (Asia Agrento) travels from her native France with two girlfriends to find Milan, a musician she believed to be deported back to Transylvania before she could arrange a marriage. She trawls the bars and clubs and eventually finds him, only to be rejected, leaving her distraught and dazed.

She ditches her friends, her belongings, her former life and immerse herself in Romanian life, befriending and being befriended along the way. She eventually hooks up with a traveling trader, Tchangalo (Birol Unel, who buys and sells amongst the rural population.

This isn’t a nice, neat film, with all the loose ends tied up, it’s a heady mix of gypsy music, languages (although there are subtitles throughout) and images. One set piece had Tchangalo wiring a recently purchased chandelier to the cables by the road, shedding light onto a traveling lifestyle, brazier burning, blankets and sheepskins around – but this isn’t a picture perfect, lavish presentation either. It is warts and all, drunken brawls, post-industrial landscapes showing Eastern Europe ravaged and left to rot by western influences, a population selling their heritage for a few Euros. All in all a fascinating piece, though the drinking and smoking done by a heavily pregnant leading lady show up how pc we’ve become.

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This is gritty romanticism, a life led in the boot of a Mercedes, sleeping, eating, even giving birth, set against a truly cinematic landscape. The director, Tony Gatlif, has recently concentrated his output on the Roma population, part of his heritage, and this film shows them and how people treat them or react to them, shown to great extent when Zingaina dons the dress of a gypsy woman when her pregnancy begins in earnest.

All in all a thoughtful film, unlike the usual blockbuster fodder, intense at times but also funny, well worth a watch.