Star Rating:

The Happiest Girl In The World

Release Date: Monday 30th November -0001

Genre(s): Drama

Running time: 100 minutes

Where's the spectre of Communism? The dilapidated, grey, high-rise apartments? The squalor? The depression? Isn't this what we've come to expect from Romanian films like 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days? Even the New Wave feel obliged to include all the above but they are nowhere to be seen in this award-winning light-hearted drama.

Delia (Bosneag) is a petulant (for 'petulant', read 'typical') teenager on her way with her squabbling parents to Bucharest to star in a TV commercial. Delia entered an orange juice competition and has won herself a car... But the mood is not good: her father (Muraru) and mother (Haret) have tried to convince Delia to sign the car over to them so they can transform her grandmother's house into a guesthouse, increase their income and pay for Delia's impending university adventure. Delia, however, is dragging her feet: all she wants to do is keep the car to drive her friends around and tension steadily grows between the three. On top of this, Delia can't get her lines for the commercial right and the increasingly frustrated director (Catanescu), already under pressure from the picky orange juice company, is worried he's losing light...

The story may be thin on the ground (it would make a perfect short), but writer-director Radu Jude fills it with characters whose every word and gesture rings true. Delia encapsulates every teenager that has trudged the earth moaning 'why me?': with a face like slapped arse, her selfishness and inability to see the big picture will enrage and delight in equal measure. You don't have to like her, you just have to believe her - and Jude makes that as easy as possible.

Whether this will appeal to a big audience or not is another matter, as in between these realistic snippets of conversation (beautifully written and unforced, it feels like the viewer is eavesdropping on real conversations, and as luck would have it Jude's camera was running) are long takes of a brooding Delia, numerous commercial takes that can get repetitive and film crew in-jokes that might have been funnier in their natural tongue.