The Other Irene

Directed by Andrei Gruzsniczki

Romania, 2009

Color, 95 minutes

Cast: Andi Vasluianu, Simona Popescu, Vlad Ivanov, Dana Dogaru, Doru Ana, Mihai Dinvale, Gabriel Spahiu

Awards: Best First Feature Film Award at the South-East European Film Fest in Los Angeles

Irina and Aurel are an ordinary couple who left their village after the fall of communism in pursuit of a better life in Bucharest. While Aurel is content with his job as a security guard at a mall, Irina is dissatisfied with life in their poorly furnished studio apartment. Against her husband’s will, she accepts a temporary job in Cairo. She returns home after a brief stay in Egypt, but a rift between husband and wife is apparent without Aurel being aware of the reasons for their estrangement. Shortly after Irina leaves for Cairo again, Aurel is dismayed to learn that his wife has committed suicide under unclear circumstances. He is convinced that the joyous woman that he loved must have been the victim of a crime, and he tries to find out who is responsible. Even after the repatriation of Irina’s body, Aurel desperately continues to search for the truth, which turns out to be closer to home than he had suspected.

To the extent that Irina’s relationship with Aurel suggests a rebellion against her own parents’ more traditional marriage, The Other Irene calls for a broader inquiry into the evolution of gender relations during and after the communist regime. The movie’s treatment of migration and alienation is reminiscent of Stere Gulea’s Weekend with My Mother (2009), which also deals with the important topic of post-communist migration.

Alex Lefter