Movie Diary 5/16/2022

Secretul lui Zorillo (Robert Eugen Popa, 2022). From Romania, a comedy set during the Roman occupation, when three bumbling idiots get involved in a plot to impersonate the visiting Emperor Hadrian. The slapstick that ensues is laced with many breakings of the Fourth Wall (asked to justify a story point, one character explains that “that’s what it said in the script”) and product placement is cheerfully offered, whether or not it violates the era. Actually, there are smart phones and rockets in this ancient land, leading to the conclusion that the film is not so much interested in involving us in the zany slapstick of its narrative, but in opportunities for satirical social-comment zingers (which inevitably have more to do with present-day Romania than with ancient Dacia). The whole thing has a tumbling momentum that suits the tone, buoyed by the delightfully played trio of schemers, who would not be out of place in the busy Roman circus of Richard Lester’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum or a Monty Python sketch.

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