Expect plenty from Do Not Expect Too Much Of the End of the World.
This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the works being covered here wouldn’t exist.
No 21st-century filmmaker has a more accurate and forceful finger on the pulse of global political thought trends than Radu Jude. His movies brim with a completely black-pilled attitude towards his own country’s political and social state amid the populace and an affinity for using social media obsession as a cipher in his cinema. In his latest, he comes out firing in an ironic and didactic rampage unseen since Jean-Luc Godard’s La chinoise (1967). Both film and digital collide in the characteristically wry and unambiguously titled Do Not Expect Too Much of the End of the World.
The film follows a young blonde woman named Angela (Ilinca Manolache) driving (poorly) around town from place to place for an advertising campaign project. She’s seeking people who have suffered debilitating injuries while working for a German-owned factory in Romania while warning other workers to “follow the rules” so they don’t get injured too. Ana doesn’t care about her job at all. She does it because it pays.
On the side, she has a popular TikTok account. On it, she plays Bobiça, a Romanian parody of famous misogynist PUA guru turned alleged sex trafficker Andrew Tate. Her videos are crude and unruly, matching her personality throughout the film. She represents a kind of stand-in for Jude, extending his increasingly dire and hopeless political vision of Romania into a pure nihilistic comedy outrage.
With radical levels of editing between different visual aesthetic forms–film, DV, digital, zoom call, and live-stream–Jude’s sardonic viciousness is apparent throughout. Like his national cinematic brethren Christian Mungiu and Cristi Puiu, he values the extended uncut long-take, especially in communal gatherings or confrontations between different parties. But Jude is the only one who adds the three-dimensionality of metatextual video and cinema forms. He, by extension, creates a situation where the act of filmmaking itself becomes a moral and political conundrum. The director’s choices, the idea of selling out, and the conversations around what to include and not to include become part of the film’s fabric.
With radical levels of editing between different visual aesthetic forms–film, DV, digital, zoom call, and live-stream–Jude’s sardonic viciousness is apparent throughout.
Jude is unabashed about the fact that he’s making movies that depict how people consume his country’s history and its political angst predominantly through digital media. In I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians, the main character tries to put on a play depicting the burning of Jews in Odessa under Antonescu. He released the documentary The Dead Nation the same year to underline the film and make it absolutely unmistakable. It’s a movie that tragically contextualizes the rest of his repertoire. It’s a sincere declaration to make clear the sarcastic energy of his other films is rooted in a deep sympathy for the victims of Romania’s past and the continued difficult moral placement of its present.
Angela explains to the marketing manager (Nina Hoss) of her German advertising company employer that the traffic laws in Romania are so stupid. As evidence, she points out how more than 600 people have died on one particular highway, memorials for the dead lining it. Jude then montages nearly half of these in a soundless sequence that extends close to 7 or 8 minutes of the film’s runtime. It’s so jarring, but that’s where Jude gets the power of Do Not Expect Too Much of the End of the World. He uses political sincerity like a knife, tearing down his own movie’s affected attitude for a few minutes to silently burn with anger.