Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
Country: Romania / France
There’s a cynical ridiculousness in the low-key “The Treasure”, the fourth fictional feature from Corneliu Porumboiu, author of “12:08 East of Bucharest” and “Police, Adjective”.
I confess I expected more from the Romanian director/screenwriter, especially if we take into account the more valuable cinematic treasures mentioned above.
All the features that characterize Mr. Porumboiu’s directorial approach can be found in his new deadpan comedy, which starts in a curious way, becoming overdetailed in its midsection, only to resuscitate in its laughable final part.
Costi (Cuzin Toma) is a caring father, despite arriving late at school to pick up his son, Alin (played by Cuzin’s real-life son, Nicodim), a Peter Pan enthusiast who’s often beaten up by another kid.
When his neighbor, Adrian (Adrian Purcarescu), pays him a visit with the intention of borrowing 800 Euros, he never imagined how his monotonous daily life would turn into a singular adventure with an authentic treasure hunt.
Adrian discloses he wants the money to rent a metal detector and hire someone professional to operate it, envisioning spotting an old treasure that was buried by his grand-grandfather in the garden of his propriety located in the countryside, province of Ostenia.
Even if financially unstable, the intrigued Costi manages to skip work and get the money, heading immediately to a company where he negotiates an acceptable price with Cornel (Corneliu Cozmei), a metal expert.
The neighbors set off to the country, eager to find and split a fortune in gold, but also aware of the necessity to report whatever they may find to the authorities, having the right to keep just 30% of its value. So, Adrian’s plan consists of selling the gold to the gypsies who would melt it, evaporating any trace of its provenience.
Once arrived at the place, they are joined by Cornel, whose character clashes with Adrian's. An eternity goes by just to read the detector’s data and to discuss what are the chances of the beeps coming from the device refer to gold, silver, copper, or aluminum.
The plain, absurdist script contains a few wry commentaries on politics, economics, and history, keeping the film minimally interesting. However, the dragging excavation and the moments that preceded it were a bit discouraging in terms of fluidity, almost putting me to sleep before the ultimate stimulus.