Iulia Rugina’s first feature film, Love Building, is the product of a 2010 actors’ workshop (Actoriedefilm.ro) starring three well-known Romanian actors, Dragoș Bucur, Dorian Boguță and Alexandru Papadopol, and thirty-one non-professionals. The aforementioned actors play three therapists who run a seven-day camp called “Love Building”, conceived to mend broken relationships.
Love Building takes a simple premise and constructs a comedic story around it: fourteen couples with problems (both straight and gay, young and older) sign up for a workshop in an idyllic lake resort in an attempt to fix their love lives. The couples are given tasks devised to help them start thinking differently about their significant other, reminisce about the beginning of their relationship, their first kiss, what made them fall for each other, discover and acknowledge their own faultiness and reveal secrets. The aforementioned tasks are given by three therapist friends (Cristian, a geeky late bloomer who is so asexual that he’s questioning his own sexuality; Valentin, who has just learned that his partner, Monica, has slept with her cousin and Silviu, the group’s ladies man who doesn’t believe love or relationships last a lifetime) who are battling their own emotional issues, thus inducing them to question their competence for this particular job.
Love Building’s problem is the high number of characters, which makes the director lose her focus. The fact that there is such a numerous cast is both comedic and troublesome and rather confusing. Indeed, it is difficult to keep up with all the subplots and characters. Moreover, the introduction of the couples and their problems in the opening credits is cleverly and hilariously executed. There is a subtle comedic element to Love Building that is built on showing conflict. Nevertheless, and due to the previously mentioned overabundance of cast members, the relationships in question are examined only superficially. Furthermore, some of the scenes that only feature amateur acting are a bit stiff, which is, at the same time, the film’s strongest and weakest asset. In that sense, the concept brings a documentary-like authenticity to the characters and their relationships, thus compelling the audience to relate and see them as real people rather than actors and the audience’s emotional attachment being essential to the story’s success. In this regard, the filmmakers can be lauded in their attempts to make an inclusive film. The acting (in the case of the professionals), the music and cinematography are noteworthy.
Love Building is no masterpiece but it is an enjoyable and heartwarming genre comedy that with the absolute enthusiasm of the amateurs paired with the professional trio surely delivers along with clever writing, shooting and editing.
Production: ActorieDeFilm, daKINO Production, Digital Cube, Papaya Advertising, Zbang Film (Romania 2013). Producers: Dorian Boguță, Dragoș Bucur and Alexandru Papadopol. Co-producer: Dan Chisu. Director: Iulia Rugina. Screenplay: Iulia Rugina, Ana Agopian and Oana Rasuceanu. Photography: Marius Iacob. Music: Mihai Dobre and Alex Pop. Production Design: Matt Hyland. Costume design: Aubrey Binzer. Editing: Iulia Rugina and Maria Florentina Zaharia.
Cast: Dorian Boguță (Valentin Preda), Dragoș Bucur (Silviu Soare), Alexandru Papadopol (Cristian Lazurean), Eugen Lumezianu (Eugen), Ion Rusu (Ioan)
Color – 85 min. Premiere: 19-IV-2013 (Bucharest International Film Festival)
This film was reviewed at the 2013 Warsaw Film Festival.