Two weeks before his film shoot is due to wrap, director Paul feigns an ulcer so that he can spend most of his time with Alina, his actress. Through sequences filmed in various locations — restaurants, bars and Paul’s apartment — the two proceed to discuss cinema in a hackneyed, slightly absurd tone or rehearse the final scene. This apparent straight-up love story between a director and his muse is skilfully turned on its head by Corneliu Porumboiu, an exponent of Romanian New Wave who uses the premise of his film-within-a-film to explore the very essence of
filmmaking. Building on the approach honed in his previous two works (12:08 East of Bucharest and Police, Adjective), Porumboiu’s latest reduces the language of film to its simplest expression, paying particular attention to framing and the concept of ‘film time.’ In so doing, he raises a fundamental question that remains every bit as relevant in the digital age: what is the nature of reality in cinema?