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Sieranevada’s 176-minute length will tax patience, but that almost seems the point.

AZ Films

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Sieranevada
Written by
Christi Puiu
Directed by
Christi Puiu
Starring
Mimi Branescu, Dana Dogaru, Marin Grigore
Classification
PG
Country
Romania
Language
Romanian

Sieranevada, the curious, enigmatically titled film from the Romanian auteur Christi Puiu, has nothing to do with the American brewing company known for its satisfying pale ale. The deadpan comedy revolves around an extended Bucharest family that gathers in a small, overstuffed apartment for a patriarch's wake. Dramas big and small simmer like borscht on the stove, as various delays and emotional tumults conspire to prevent dinner from being served. A doctor (Mimi Branescu) participates in some of it, but often looks upon the proceedings with bemusement, as if watching a play. Which is what Sieranevada would feel like if it weren't filmed in a claustrophobic, fly-on-the-wall way. We move from room to room, sometimes taking a break in an empty hallway. Secrets are revealed gradually as everyone waits for the big meal. Branescu's doctor is hungry and viewers will be, too – the film's 176-minute length will tax patience, but that almost seems the point in a story about how truth is arrived at and/or denied.

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