R.M.N How can multi-ethnic groups coexist with a lost workforce and heavy xenophobia?

Christian Monge, who won the Palme d’Or with “Three Weeks and Two Days in April” and the Best Director at Cannes with “The Graduation Exam”, has long been a recognized master in Romanian cinema, with his detached aesthetic, indifferent narrative and compassionate observation of society, bringing a rich humanistic flavor to his work. This time, with his new film “R.M.N.” in the main competition again, as soon as the shortlist was announced, the overly concise title once confused the fans, and the combination of letters inevitably associated with the English spelling of “Romanian”, so people are more curious about the specific meaning of the title?

In fact, R.M.N. is the abbreviation of Rezonanta Magnetica Nucleara in Romanian, so the Chinese translation of the film was changed to the specific meaning of the abbreviation: “Nuclear Magnetic Resonance”. Monge continues his fascinating and very human exploration of the many issues facing Romania, showing the problems of identity and national belonging of various groups in one of the last countries to join the European Union (Romania joined with Bulgaria in 2007), and the racist sentiments and xenophobia that have spread as a result.

Monge focuses his lens on a small town set in the Transylvanian region, a land at the crossroads where different countries and languages collide, and where many residents work abroad, particularly in Germany. The area was inhabited at different times by Romanians, Hungarians and Germans, who communicate in different languages in the film. During the screening, Monge used white, purple and yellow to represent the different languages for the lines.

The film begins with Matthias’ young son Rudy walking through a forest one morning on his way to school, but he sees something that frightens him and makes him feel scared and mute. After this small incident, which is a metaphor for a place plagued by the fear of outsiders, we see Matthias flee Germany and return to Romania after beating up the owner of a German factory who calls him a “gypsy”. His return is one of several narrative threads in R.M.N..

Matthias is a local, but the local Sri Lankan workers are treated as unwelcome immigrants, which is an ironic insult. Questions of identity and ethnic affiliation plague these characters throughout the film until they explode in the second half of the film.

Matthias’ return is not exactly welcome. Anna, his ex-wife, lets him sleep on the couch, and the couple quarrels over their very different ways of dealing with their son (Matthias believes he “must be a man” and not be dominated by fear, while his mother insists on sleeping with him and refuses to let him go to school alone). As a result, Matthias begins to seek out his previous girlfriend, Kia, who is of Hungarian descent and divorced from the village.

Kia becomes the main protagonist of the ever advancing plot twists. She is a cello enthusiast and the film uses the classic soundtrack “Yumeji’s Theme” from “Flower Power” several times as her practice piece. Her day job is running the local bakery. The expansion of the bakery is the main reason for her to keep recruiting young Sri Lankans, but behind this is the company owner’s consideration to get financial subsidies from the European Union. Kia is arguably the most cosmopolitan person in town: she speaks at least four languages and takes great care of the recent immigrants.

The recruitment of immigrants gradually develops into the core of the conflict in the film – the bakery needs workers, but there is a serious loss of local labor and they can get more pay in other countries; and the locals cannot accept the job because of the low pay and hard work, and prefer to survive through social subsidies; when the bakery recruits immigrants, it stimulates the xenophobia and racism of the local population.

Monge’s play follows the two men as they deal with various issues. For Matthias, it involves trying to reconnect with his young, non-speaking son Rudy while caring for his neurologically challenged father, Papa Otto, who undergoes an MRI after collapsing one morning on a sheep farm; for Chira, she has to both recruit workers to keep them running and deal with the resulting protests from residents.

But in reality, the town is the real star of the film, but the beauty of Mongi is that it is never actually named – it is a “melting pot” of nationalities, Romanians, Hungarians, Germans and even Europeans of other nationalities ( They have dealt with similar anti-“gypsy” sentiments before) coexist here.

The contradictions and plot developments in Monge’s work require a great deal of time to be carefully laid out, rather than being pushed forward by a flurry of action, because all the actions in the film are rooted in this reality of harmony and coexistence on the surface, but with a darker undercurrent behind the scenes. In this film, he continues to work with “Baccalaureate” cinematographer Tudor Vladimir Panduru, and the wide master shots capture both the breathtaking mountain scenery and, with Monge’s masterful scheduling skills, the actors are able to complete their performances in uncut long takes.

Such an approach works wonders at key moments – a civil debate in a town hall is the climax of the film, and the embodiment of Monge’s worthy mastery. The twenty-minute scene has only one shot, and the camera position and perspective are largely fixed. Matthias and Kia, along with dozens of other villagers, debate whether to ban foreign workers, with everyone and their mothers, sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers expressing their opinions.

Most importantly, through this civic debate, he completes a cross-sectional scan of the region and even Romanian society: the local labor force is in desperate shortage because they do not want to work in the town and choose to go to other EU countries, but they can hardly escape from the discrimination; if the immigrant laborers are expelled, the bakery will have difficulties to maintain their livelihood and affect the local economy, but in fact, one of the important purposes of the bakery to recruit immigrants is to At the same time, most of the profits from the operation of the bakery are taken by the managers to buy luxury cars, and the workers can only get minimum wages for their hard work; and if they are left behind, they will be discriminated against like those locals outside, and even their lives will be threatened …… Monge uses this drama to show the conflicting opinions of people under the same event People’s conflicting opinions, although the film they have multiple language dialogue, but only one language to think: “outsiders will take away what belongs to us”.

It is easy for humans to make such dualistic judgments when faced with differences in race, class, economy or nationality, and this change is based on which side are you on? As at the end of the film, Matthias turns his back to the audience and raises his gun to face the mountain bears that roam the forest near the village, a question that Monge throws at the audience: should he shoot or not? Ecologists from France believe that the bears are ecologically valuable to the natural environment; but the people here consider them a threat to the security of the community. The answer to the question depends on what your criteria are. Are you outside or inside your “home”?

Kia can still flee and find well-paying jobs abroad, and when the local economy is depleted and people from other countries come to replace them, a population shift takes place. In both cases, people never actually stay completely at home. And in this town, which doesn’t even have a name, in Romania (RoMaNia), “home” is never clearly defined.

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