The Treasure (2015; Corneliu Porumboui)
By Daniel Barnes
Another deadpan, three-headed Romanian history lesson from the director of 12:08 East of Bucharest, this time in the form of a treasure hunt.
Struggling family man Costi (Toma Cuzin, who also figures prominently into the superior Aferim!, this week’s other Romanian new release) gets an irresistible offer from his desperate neighbor Adrian: front the money for a metal detector specialist, and they will split the buried treasure that Adrian assumes is buried on his dilapidated family farm.
Unable to afford a reputable outfit, they hire black-market weekend warrior Cornel, the Communist proletariat to Adrian’s aristocratic asshole, while the lunkish Costi keeps a tentative peace during a contentious dig.
A film so wispy and deadset against narrative momentum that it threatens to float away, The Treasure doesn’t stick around very long, but writer-director Porumboui’s emotional restraint, cultural intelligence and minor-key humor keep you tethered for the duration.
As they dig closer and closer to the unidentified nonferrous metal buried under the surface, they seem to be digging through layers of Romanian history, from one era of violent revolution and peasant neglect to the next.