Review: Transylvania (2006)


Directed by: Tony Gatlif | 103 minutes | drama | Actors: Asia Argento, Amira Casar, Birol Ünel, Alexandra Beaujard, Marco Castoldi, Beata Palya, Rares Budelaina, Gabor

Tony Gatlif has once again delighted his regular audience with a new addition to his line of films characterized by excellent music. Gatlif is known for films such as ‘Gadjo Dilo’, ‘Vengo’, ‘Swing’ and ‘Exils’. Music is the driving force behind all those films and this film is no exception. ‘Transylvania’ is about the life of the young Zingarina (played by Asia Argento), who in Romania, together with a friend and a guide, is looking for her boyfriend Milan who has fled France, where they had a violent relationship. However, Milan was not legal there. Now that it turns out that Zingarina is pregnant, she starts looking for him.

Milan is a pianist in one of the many gypsy companies. When she finds him, however, it turns out that he has not been deported at all, he simply left because he did not want to stay with her anymore. He immediately shows her the door and does not want to hear from her anymore. Zingarina goes completely crazy and starts a wandering through desolate landscapes with her girlfriend. Run-down farming hamlets, mud and snow, ox carts, you name it, it’s all her share. During this wanderings she meets the buyer of gold and antiques, Tchangalo (played by Birol Ünel, who became known with ‘Gegen die Wand’). Together they embark on a trek through the harsh, but also extremely photogenic landscape. They are an extremely complicated company, both of them have a loose stitch. They are attracted to each other

During this trip we get to see a wide variety of beautiful characters and heads, we meet many gypsy groups who make music ‘spontaneously’. This is the power of the movie; the combination of beautiful, compelling music with photogenic character heads and atmospheric landscapes. Together Zingarina and Tchangalo experience a lot but at the same time little and the affection for each other grows. The fact that the story takes a positive turn despite their difficult relationship and the harsh circumstances is not a surprising development. As usual with Gatlif’s films, the screenplay does not involve much in terms of content. That is not what his films are about at all, that depth is not missed and that is why this does not detract from the film.

‘Transylvania’ is not a film that was made and edited with great speed, it is rather a kind of fairy tale that unfolds slowly and melancholy. Asia Argento and Birol Ünel’s game is convincing. ‘Transylvania’ is a film that will again find appreciation among fans of this genre. Immersive music and enchanting images!

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