Movie Diary 2/3/2020

Veni, Vidi, Fugi (Robert Eugen Popa, 2016). This half-hour film does a clever job of weaving together different eras and comic ideas. A young guy (known as K) in Ceausescu’s Romania is struggling on a variety of different fronts: he’s trying to woo an attractive woman, plotting an escape to the West, and borrowing money from a gang of flamboyantly boorish loan sharks. Oh, and he’s failing Latin, too. In the midst of this, K is visited by a manifestation of the poet Ovid, who was exiled to the Roman Black Sea outpost of Tomis (now Constanta, where our story is set) during the reign of Augustus. Ovid (a droll performance by Constantin Florescu, who looks exactly the way you want your Roman poets to look) begins consulting with K – so there’s a hint of Play It Again, Sam floating around, except with a toga-clad intellectual instead of Humphrey Bogart. The ghostly Ovid will help K complete his Latin assignment, if K will help him finally return to Rome. All of this perks along in a skillful way, crisply shot and with smart comic timing; for a short film, it boasts a great deal of care in each set-up. The film also features the mighty Maia Morgenstern as K’s Latin teacher, lending her slightly amused gravity to the situation. As K, Paul Octavian Diaconescu brings just the right amount of anxious brio – he would fit right in to a French New Wave film. For all the film’s comedy, it does manage to touch on the pathos of exile, and feeling of being stuck in the wrong place and the wrong era.