The Movie Waffler New to VOD - DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD | The Movie Waffler


A PA auditions injured workers for a safety at work video.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Radu Jude

Starring: Ilinca Manolache, Nina Hoss, Uwe Boll, Dorina Lazar, Katia Pascariu, Sofia Nicolaescu

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World poster

In recent years we've seen the emergence of a new sub-genre in European cinema: movies that revolve around stressed out female protagonists attempting to do their jobs, often in Eastern Europe, and often at the behest of unscrupulous and exploitative employers. Examples include Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann, Eric Gravel's Full Time, Ilker Catak's The Teachers' Lounge, Sudabeh Mortezai's Europa and Ben Hecking's Haar. Like Hecking's film, Radu Jude's Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World is centred on a day in the overworked life of a film production assistant in an Eastern European capital that has opened its doors/legs to western intervention/exploitation.

Ilinca Manolache gives a powerhouse performance as Angela, a PA accustomed to working 16 hour days dashing from one corner of Bucharest to another. To keep from falling asleep at the wheel, she chews gum, knocks back cans of Red Bull and blares thumping "Turbo Folk" music while driving. References to the death of Queen Elizabeth II place the film as playing out over the course of September 8th, 2022. On this day Angela is tasked with visiting the homes of former employees of a Bucharest-based Austrian furniture manufacturer whose employment was ended by workplace injuries. The Austrian company wishes to produce a safety at work promo video, and so it's up to Angela to film auditions among their now disabled former workers, who are encouraged to stress that no blame for their mishaps lies with the company.

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World review

While performing her work duties, Angela also attends to personal matters, involving her family's burial plot, which is about to be moved to make way for condos, and a quickie with an older lover in an arrangement that seems closer to sex work than a romantic relationship. Angela also finds time to record a series of offensive TikTok videos in which she employs a crude face filter to transform her self into her online alter-ego – "Bobita", a foul-mouthed parody of the sort of male chauvinist windbags who scream abuse at her from passing cars. At one point she even runs into the infamous German filmmaker Uwe Boll in a scene that plays like a twisted version of that episode of The Cosby Show where the Huxtables meet Stevie Wonder.

Angela's day is intercut with footage from Angela merge mai departe, a 1981 Romanian film about a female taxi driver, also called Angela. The actress who played Angela in that film, Dorina Lazar, also appears as a present day version of the same character, now the mother of one of the injured parties Manolache's Angela is auditioning.

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World review

The contrast between the stressful hand-to-mouth existence of Manolache's Angela and the chilled out cabbie we see in the 1981 footage serves as a damning indictment of modern day capitalism. We hear younger generations who were barely alive during the communist years talk about what an awful time it was, but the older people seem nostalgic for a time that provided a reassuring certainty, and they express sympathy with the young people forced to work multiple jobs and long hours today. You won't have to be a resident of a former communist nation to recognise this dynamic, as young people in prosperous western nations similarly lack the basic stability taken for granted by previous generations.

A punk rock movie with a prog rock running time, Jude's film is simultaneously an exhilarating and exhausting experience. By the two hour mark we feel like we've spent an entire day shadowing Angela, and the film is so densely packed with entertaining incidents, encounters, anecdotes, jokes and aphorisms that it's difficult to recall them all. Highlights include a hilarious broken English zoom meeting between Angela's Romanian colleagues and the Austrian firm's head of marketing (Nina Hoss with a chilling depiction of the sort of "liberal on the outside, fascist on the inside" types who increasingly run today's corporate world); a not-so funny and seemingly endless montage of crosses erected to commemorate those who perished on Romania's notoriously hazardous roads; and a final hour-long static shot of the inept process of trying to film the aforementioned safety video.

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World review

With jokes made at the expense of everyone from the heads of multi-national companies to crippled gypsies, it's hard to tell if Jude is punching up, down or sideways with his satire, but nobody is left without a few bruises by the end of it all. You might need a few cans of Red Bull to get through the experience, but you'll come away from Jude's film with one hell of a sugar rush. This is cinematic cocaine.

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World
 is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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