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Love Sick
cast: Maria Popistasu, Ioana Barbu, Tudor Chinla

director: Tudor Giurgiu

87 minutes (15) 2006
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
TLA DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
In Bucharest, Cristina, known as 'Kiki' (Maria Popistasu), narrates how she met Alex (Ioana Barbu). They are university students, Kiki a city girl and looking to have fun, Alex coming to the capital from the countryside and aiming to work hard and make her parents proud of her. They immediately fall in love. Also on the scene is Kiki's boorish brother Sandu (Tudor Chinla), who acts like a jealous boyfriend around the couple and whose feelings for his sister are more than just fraternal.

Romanian cinema is going through a boom around now, what with Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2007. Love Sick (aka: Legaturi bolnavicioase) isn't the finest example, but it's an attractive if dramatically thin film that may find an audience outside the usual one for gay-interest films. It reminded me somewhat of Swedish director Lukas Moodysson's debut feature Show Me Love (original title, Fucking Amal - hmm, wonder why they changed that for English-speaking countries?), another story of a teenage female love affair, though in a small-town setting. Love Sick isn't up to that level though.

Director Giurgiu, and screenwriters Cecilia Stefanescu and Razvan Radulescu (working from Stefanescu's novel), guide the story back and forth in time, prioritising the drift of feelings and particular episodes (including a wince-making ear-piercing), rather than using a strict what-happened-next narrative form. The camerawork by Alex Sterian is attractive, both in Bucharest and Alex's rural hometown of Pietrosita.

Love Sick was reviewed from a DVD-R screener which had a copyright notice on screen throughout, and bore a warning that it was not representative of the final product. Let's hope so, because if it were it would be pretty poor: non-anamorphic (in the ratio of 1.85:1) with a very soft transfer roughly equivalent to VHS quality. Sound is basic Dolby surround and there are no extras. Caveat emptor.

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