Communist Romania, it was not what you knew, but who you knew and whether you
informed on them. One gifted mathematician will prove the point in Andrei
Gruzsniczki’s Quod Erat Demonstrandum (trailer here), which screens
during this year’s New Directors/New Films, co-presented by the Film Society of
Lincoln Center and MoMA.
Parvu is a genius, but he is not a Party member. Hence, he has not been allowed
to publish or complete his Ph.D. Increasingly frustrated, he somehow manages to
smuggle a paper to a western academic journal. It has absolutely nothing to do
with politics, but the Securitate still has a fit when it is printed.
the man tasked with investigating Parvu is largely in the same boat. Alecu
Voican is overdue for a promotion, but his commanding officer holds him back
for the sake of his own convenience. Voican quickly uncovers a link between Parvu
and Elena Buciuman, a married colleague, whom he has long carried a torch for.
Ever since her husband defected while attending an academic conference in
France, Buciuman has jumped through bureaucratic hoops, fruitlessly trying to
obtain the necessary permits to join him. It is exactly the sort of weakness
Voican intends to exploit in his campaign against Parvu.
of the most striking aspects of QED
is the characters’ lack of ideological motivation. Parvu is clueless when it
comes to politics. Frankly, none of it would have come to pass had he been
allowed to pursue his work for the greater glory of Romania. However, there is
no denying the realities of Communism Gruzsniczki so drably recreates. Shortages,
blackouts, and the trappings of Ceausescu’s personality cult are ever-present
powerfully conveying the oppressive tenor of the time, QED still manages to be a remarkably subtle drama. Much is
exchanged in glances and hearts are forced to break with quiet restraint. Sorin
Leoveanu and Ofelia Popii develop genuine screen chemistry as Parvu and
Buciuman, projecting a real sense of their years of ambiguous shared history. In
contrast to their tragic dignity, Florin Piersic Jr. and Dorian Boguta vividly
portray the debasing self-contempt wrought by collaboration, as Voican and
Lucian Amohnoaiei, Parvu’s former friend turned informer.
is exactly what the doctor ordered for Romanian
cinema. Granted, it hardly wears its heart on its sleeve, but it is still a
tightly focused, emotionally engaging film, with real stakes involved for all
its characters. It is an accomplished work of cinema and an uncompromising
examination of the everyday details of Ceausescu’s police state, with particular
credit also due to Christian Niculescu’s design team. Potent fare for both mind
and soul, Quod Erat Demonstrandum is
highly recommended when it screens Thursday (3/20) at the Walter Reade and
Saturday (3/22) at MoMA, as part of ND/NF.
Labels: Communism, ND/NF '14, Romanian Cinema