Future Frames 2017 Review – Bones For Otto

The world’s oldest profession is popular subject for cinematic portrayal, with films often going down a dark route in examining prostitution and exploring the often difficult situations that women find themselves in. Romanian director Matei Lucaci-Grunberg eschews the typical darkness of said films and Bones For Otto by creating a deft comic two hander in which two women plying their trade find a mutual understanding about each other’s lives.

A quiet Monday night. One woman waits on the street looking for clients. Unbeknownst to her, she has taken the spot of another working girl who takes offence at her faux pas. Exchanging angry recriminations the two unnamed women start to discover a little bit more about the other. One is a naïve newcomer, working the streets for the first time to earn the money to pay for a ticket to a singing audition. The other is more experienced and cynical yet dotes on her son and looks forward to the day when she will be able to afford everything that she wants out of life. As the cars whizz past and the night goes on, the two discover more about each other. But as one car stops, will The Singer get exactly what she has been looking for?

Bones for Otto is partly a success thanks to some great lead performances from Nicoleta Hâncu and Anca Dumitra. Managing to create a fine chemistry, they spark off each other as opposites – one the cynical veteran, the other the naïve waif. While many films of this ilk will concentrate on the moralities of the profession, this is much more an exploration of the people who work on the streets. The film does not condone or condemn them or their choices – it merely allows us a greater understanding of their hopes and dreams.

However, the film does have a faintly satirical edge with the idea of The Singer needing to sell herself on the streets to take part in a singing competition. As she searches for fame and fortune, there is a hint of an idea that this may not be the only time that she needs to sell herself – it just won’t be on the streets.

The film is based on a play by Lia Bugnar and, while sometimes the film betrays it’s the origins, cinematographer Misu Ionescu does a fine job in taking the film beyond the constraints of theatricality. One moment of The Prostitute walking through deserted streets as opera music plays in the background adds a tinge of melancholia to the lightly comic proceedings – to achieve their dreams of a new life, they must now accept one that can be lonely, dangerous and isolating.

Lucaci-Grunberg is a student at the UNATC film school in Romania and Bones For Otto – receiving its International Premiere in European Film Promotion’s Future Frames at Karlovy Vary – should find a welcoming home on those festival’s looking for a lightly comic yet still thoughtful piece of work.

You can read an interview with Matei Lucaci-Grunberg HERE

Film Information

Original Title: Oase pentru Otto

English Title: Bones For Otto

Director: Matei Lucaci-Grunberg

Country: Romania

Year: 2016

Run Time: 29 mins

Contact: Romanian Film Promotion, info@romfilmpromotion.ro

03 July 2017, by Laurence Boyce