20 Jun 2024

Three kilometers to the end of the world. The natural paradise of contrasts

The rotten judicial system and the stereotypes of a patriarchal society are explored against the backdrop of the idyllic landscapes of the Danube Delta.

The third feature film by actor-turned-director Emanuel Pârvu premiered this year at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Queer Palm award. Now, the filmmaker is back at TIFF.

The action in "Three Kilometers to the End of the World (and of Reason)" takes place in an apparently peaceful village in the Danube Delta, where illegal activities such as poaching and corruption are commonplace. However, similar to the narrative in "Marocco" – the director's second feature film, selected in the Official Competition at TIFF.20 – a gesture of tenderness made with the best intentions triggers a series of unfortunate events that plunge the entire community into unexpected chaos.

The cast brings together established actors such as Adrian Titieni, Laura Vasiliu, Bogdan Dumitrache, and Valeriu Andriuță with the younger generation, including Ciprian Chiujdea and Ingrid Berescu, each delivering natural and believable performances that match the rural atmosphere.

The film tells the story of a gay boy who returns to his hometown to spend time with his family after his high school exams. His experience turns out to be far from the serenity of the last long summer days before college: one night, on the way home from the disco, Adrian is beaten in the middle of the street.

The natural paradise, where time flows more slowly, thus becomes a spatial frame suitable for battles between old and new, between conservatism and progressivism, between rural and urban, between medicine and religion. The idyllic landscapes stand in deep contrast with the barbarism displayed by the characters, which is so easily overlooked in the name of collective peace. In a world at the end of the earth, at the edge of civilization, where the status quo must be preserved at all costs, blood ties mean very little.

The script by Miruna Berescu, written in collaboration with Pârvu, presents a patriarchal society governed by fear and "what people will say," where money and connections are the most important assets. The absurd lines of those in positions of authority are delivered with such calm and sincerity that it’s hard not to try to see their point of view.

This is the charm. The antagonists do not lie or deny the facts, and the commissioner seems inclined to do what is honest. Unlike the situation in "Ordinary People" – Paul Negoescu’s drama that paints a similar picture of rural police, which degenerates horribly – here, there seems to be no trace of malice. Everyone truly believes that what they are doing is right and "better" for the other. "Three Kilometers to the End of the World" plays with perspectives and does not give verdicts. Can you?