[TIFF 2023] DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD -- A Profound, Funny Experimentation With Cinematic Form by Radu Jude
Review by Sean Boelman
Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude’s last film, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, won the Golden Bear at Berlinale. His next effort, Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World is a much more agreeable and entertaining film — although that doesn’t make it any more conventional or less angry.
The film follows a production assistant who is casting a workplace safety video, and the disabled factory worker she finds, whose injury and its cause create tension with those creating the video. Although the premise doesn’t sound particularly engaging, Jude uses it to create some genuinely funny and meaningful situations.
At 2 hours and 43 minutes, Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World is nearly a full hour longer than Jude’s last film. However, it does not feel as long because it is much more entertaining and far more focused. Although the film still contains several disparate parts and styles, they come together extremely well.
The humor of the film is uber-specific and not broad at all. The funniest bit in the film is a cameo by trashterpiece filmmaker Uwe Boll, playing himself. While the comedy of this scene is likely to be lost on any but the most devoted cinephile, that group is exactly who would seek out an experimental film like Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World.
However, even though the film is highly ambitious and avant garde, Jude has perfected how he experiments with the cinematic form, allowing his latest film to be consistently engaging. In addition to his characteristic long takes, there are two big swings he takes with his style here. Throughout the film, he intercuts scenes from a 1981 film Angela Moves On, which creates some fascinating subtextual analogies with the text Jude presents. There’s also one sequence of silent montage — reminiscent of the video essay portion of Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, albeit much more effective.
As usual for the filmmaker, Jude paints with a very wide brush when it comes to the film’s themes. However, Jude also manages to tie together all of the film’s points extremely well with the central thesis that those in power are continuing to exploit those in the lower class and get away with it — be it the factory managers or the government. While he says it with a sense of humor, there are still plenty of moments that pack a potent punch.
The film is led by Ilinca Manolache, who is quite brilliant in her role. She really nails the comedic aspects of the film, especially the portions where she is using a Snapchat filter to play the role of an exaggerated macho influencer. Nina Hoss also has a small supporting role that allows her to get a handful of laughs.
Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World shows Radu Jude bringing his craft to an entirely different level than he ever has before. It’s funny, profound, and just an altogether well-made work of experimental cinema.
Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World is screening at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, which runs September 7-17 in Toronto, Canada.