January 27, 2020  (Web Review)

Octav

First Run, 100 min., in Romanian w/English subtitles, not rated, DVD: $24.95, Oct. 22

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Octogenarian Octav (Marcel Iures) is forced to return to the family estate, located in a small Romanian village that he abandoned decades ago. The house in which he grew up is a beautiful structure on a large, wooded plot of land that includes a second home occupied by Octav’s childhood friend, Spiri (Victor Rebengiuc). The latter is a lonely widower who has deeply missed his companion, but will be forced to move out of his own domicile because of Octav’s sale. Brittle and exhausted by life (including a costly court battle that is a preface to the main story), Octav moves through his boyhood home like a ghost full of trepidation. But the real actual spirit in this tale of bittersweet enchantment—and the echoing chambers of an old man’s memories—is a little girl named Ana (Alessia Tofan), a figure who meant so much to Octav’s life. Seeing her again as a mischievous apparition opens the floodgates of his history: the death of his emotionally impaired but artistic mother, the measured wisdom of his father, and the friends he grew up with until going off to war. Director Serge Ioan Celebidachi flows gracefully between past and present in this lovely movie about time and loss. Recommended. (T. Keogh)