Director: Cristian Nemescu; Release date: out now
California Dreamin' was to be Cristian Nemescu's only feature film - both he and his sound editor were killed in a car crash before it was finished.
He has created a beautiful film. It often makes you smile because you are reminded of your own obsessions and yearnings and clumsy, frustrated attempts to better yourself. People are brought together by circumstance and we witness subtle and intimate conversations between them.
Doiaru is a corrupt station master in what he tells his daughter, Monica, is "a shit hole of a village" in Romania. He's a nobody in charge of a nowhere railway station. Monica is young and bored and wants out, so Doiaru deals in stolen goods to help her. He competes with other petty thieves and bribes the police. Is this neoliberalism, Romanian style?
As a boy, at the end of the Second World War, Doiaru had waited with his family in vain to be liberated by the US. Now the US soldiers are passing through, carrying military equipment to the border with Kosovo. The Nato bombing of Serbia is on the radio. The US wants to impose its dominance in the region. He has a chance to make a point. They have no paperwork, so he stops the train and forces them to stay.
For the mayor of the village, the US represents glamour and publicity. His wife sells cosmetics and gives lessons in seduction. For Monica and her girlfriends, between the power cuts and the prostitution, the soldiers offer a kind of escape. But now, as before, the US leaves violence and false promises in its wake. The train moves out and the town implodes.
I want to watch this film again. You should see it.