Closer to the Moon: Romanian Robin Hoods
It happened one day in 1959 in Bucharest: four men and one woman robbed an armoured car belonging to the National Bank of Romania, stealing an enormous amount of money. When they were caught, the authorities were bewildered: all five were important members of the Communist Party. What made them steal so many banknotes that were worthless outside Romania, with nothing valuable enough to buy within the country itself?
Closer to the Moon by Nae Caranfil (a director known for his highly popular Romanian title Philanthropy, and whose latest film, 6.9 on the Richter Scale, had its debut at the Transilvania International Film Festival in June 2016), which was filmed in English, tries to answer this question in a light-hearted way.
Based on a true story and one of the most expensive productions in Romanian cinema, Closer to the Moon stars Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Sherlock Holmes) as Max Rădoiu, a police colonel fed up with the system he had helped to build. A member of the Jewish community, he is even more dissatisfied with the Party's tendencies towards religious cleansing. Together with his friends Alice (Vera Farmiga), a political scientist, Iorgu (Christian McKay), a history professor, Dumi (Tim Plester), a rocket scientist, and Răzvan (Joe Armstrong), a respected journalist, Rădoiu carefully plans the robbery, which Caranfil portrays through extensive flashbacks.
The heroes call themselves Romanian Robin Hoods, and that's exactly what they are, but what they actually steal from the all-powerful Party and give to the rest of the country is not money, but hope. It's easy to understand the frustration of the Securitate leaders when the money is stolen, as one of the most widely promoted advantages of Communism was the lack of crime in society. But the most interesting, absurd and even surreal aspect of the case is that after the five were arrested, the Securitate forced them to reenact the robbery in front of the camera in order to make a propaganda film to show all over the country.
14 October 2016, by Cineuropa