53rd NYFF. RAMONA BY ANDREI CRETULESCU (ENG)
By Tanner Tafelski
In the past three years Andrei Creţulescu has made three minimalist conceptual films, each one better than the last. And in his prior work, the name Ramona rings out at specific moments. “I can’t believe you fucked Ramona,” one thief says to another in Bad Penny (2013). While power relations play out among three thugs in a booth at a pub, off screen, the sounds of festivity are heard as—you guessed it—Ramona celebrates her birthday in Kowalski (2014). Ramona is like an in-joke among Creţulescu’s small body of work, inevitably manifesting as the title in his latest, most accomplished film yet.
Ramona has a slim suggestion of a story with the relief that there’s no dialogue in the short at all. The focus is on Creţulescu’s controlled aesthetic. Unlike Bad Penny or Kowalski, which exclusively feature men, this film has a female protagonist, a blonde in a beige trench coat and red heels who executes methodical, calculated murders—all of whom are men—over the course of a night and a morning. She’s a hit woman, or perhaps a friend, or someone avenging another woman whom we only see in photographs of her shackled and tortured.
Over the span of twenty minutes, Ramona has a total of six shots. All of them are in the same vein; long take, hand held sequence shots that often follow the protagonist. Creţulescu makes all the edits matter. You can see the logic behind each and every cut. Only one could be considered a throwaway shot. If not perched in the backseat of the protagonist’s car, the camera is mere feet behind her, tracking her precise moves as she bludgeons, tapes, and pins—all in all, cutting up men in society.
As a final parting shot, Bauhaus’ “She’s in Parties” blasts on the soundtrack. Except for the use of Darío Moreno’s “Brigitte Bardot” and “Tout l’amour” earlier as ironic counterpoint to grisly violence, Peter Murphy is the only voice you hear in the film. Selecting the song is on point and oh so delicious with lyrics like, “Freeze frame screen kiss / Hot head under silent wigs / Fall guys tumble on the cutting room floor / Look-a-likes fall on the cutting room door”. Not only a capper, the song adds a reflexive layer to the film.
By the way, who’s Ramona? Is she the trench coat killer? The woman in the photos? Maybe they are both Ramona? Maybe they aren’t? All I know is that Andrei Creţulescu is a director to keep on your radar.
Director: Andrei Cretulescu
Producers: Andrei Cretulescu, Radu Stancu – DeFilm, Claudiu Mitcu – Wearebasca
Script: Andrei Cretulescu
Photography: Andrei Butica
Editing: Catalin Cristutiu
Sound: Marius Leftarache
Music: Marius Leftarache
Cast: Rodica Lazar, Dorian Boguta, Andi Vasluianu, Serban Pavlu, Ana Ularu
Romania, 2015, 20 min.