Radu Jude: My next film will be shot on an iPhone

Filmmaker Radu Jude, along with actor Ilinca Manolache, discuss their Romanian black-and-white feature Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of The World, the origin of its title, and more
Radu Jude: My next film will be shot on an iPhone

Filmmaker Radu Jude is provocative in a good way, an aspect of his personality that extends even to his film titles. Take, for instance, the title of his latest Mubi feature Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of The World. Like his 2018 film I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians, it seems more like a statement. However, a cagey Radu provides no easy answers, as he describes Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of The World as “a piece of advice”, without divulging the film’s plot or themes. The title is a conversation starter, much like the film itself, and it makes one wonder whether it specifically concerns the struggling working class and the gig economy. However, Radu has a broader explanation for the title. “I like the fact that it is pessimistic, ironic, and funny all at once. It is intentionally serious and light in the same way, capturing the spirit of the film,” says Radu.

The film mainly revolves around Ilinca Manolache's Angela, a production assistant by day and a cab driver by night. A major part of the film involves Angela venting her frustrations with the TikTok persona of her opinionated and brash alter ego, Bobita. The title, Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of The World, is a reflection of her cynical worldview as a gig economy member and a way of dealing with her disappointment over the status quo. However, it is not Radu’s intention to cater the title or the film to a specific audience base. When he calls it a piece of advice, he means it in a general sense.

“Neither the title nor the film concerns a particular audience. The film is for everyone. I agree with the notion that it is interesting. But you know what? I borrowed it. It is originally a Polish aphorism,” reveals a candid Radu as he indirectly refers to Polish writer Stanislaw Jerzy Lec.

The beauty of an aphorism is its ambiguity. Much like Lec's quote, Radu’s film has an open ending and invites the viewer to consider what the "end of the world" means. Does it literally refer to a pervasive sense of gloom and doom? Or does it imply an individualistic crisis or a broader sense of societal decline? Make of it what you will. However, by leaving the meaning open-ended in the film and the interview, he encourages the audience to reflect on not just their anxieties about the future but also the importance of finding purpose in the present.

No one in the film is as anxious over her health and job as Angela. When Radu calls the title ironic, he is indirectly alluding to the dual identities of his female lead in the film. Angela has frustrations over the unfair treatment she faces as a cab driver, as well as the loss of her family plot to a big corporation that forces the exhumation of her father's body. This property situation causes Babita to launch a profane and satirical rant on TikTok where she mocks the corporation for prioritising profit over basic human respect. Ironically, her unfiltered rants come through a TikTok filter-based persona.

All this means that the role requires an actor willing to shed their inhibitions while going off on a tirade of abuse. It is not a character that every actor will find comfortable playing. However, Ilinca reveals that Bobita’s personality is not all that beyond her. “I loved Radu’s screenplay enormously the first time I read its final draft. The character made me feel very represented and liberated. I felt empowered while doing all the vulgarity. In my personal life, I curse a lot and speak very dirty, so Bobita was not such a big creation for me,” says Ilinca. However, this does not mean that the actor’s TikTok alter ego never faced flak from the audience.

“When I started doing Bobita on my social media platforms in real life in 2021, people disliked her language and aggression. They did not try to understand why I denounced something more problematic through such language. Our society has a power dynamic between men and women that is more vulgar and hideous than what mere words can describe,” explains Ilinca, who mostly does theatre in Bucharest. However, one person who liked the actor’s Bobita character and explored it more deeply than the average person is Radu Jude. While the real-life character might go over some people's heads, it piqued Radu’s interest enough to make him cast Ilinca in the lead role for Do Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The World.

During the conversation, the director also hinted at his next project, which he says will have a different aesthetic from the mostly monochromatic Do Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The World. “Hopefully, it will be filmed on an iPhone. There are some budget problems to be overcome. But if I am doing the film, I would use an iPhone for it,” says Radu as he signs off.

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