TWO LOTTERY TICKETS (Doua Lozuri)
Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Paul Negoescu
Writer: Ion Luca Caragiale, Paul Negoescu
Cast: Dorian Boguta, Dragos Bucur, Alexandru Papadopol, Andi Vasluianu, Serban Pavlu
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 5/13/21
Opens: May 21, 2021
If a Bucharest filmmaker wants to make a Romanian version of “The Three Stooges,” Larry, Curley and Moe, he might choose the trio that form a road buddy movie in Paul Negoescu’s “Two Lottery Tickets.” Negoescu, whose “A Month in Thailand” is a road movie as well, centers this current work on three drinking buddies. Dinel (Dorian Boguta), whose wife left him for an Italian, needs to raise enough money to convince her to come home, but his job as a car mechanic simply does not pay enough and what’s more, in a scene near the opening, a customer refuses to pay him for an unsatisfactory paint job. Ile (Drago Bucur) is a carpenter, though we don’t see much of his work, and Pompilu (Alexandru Papadopol) has no visible source of income but as a conspiracy theorist he could always leave Romania and find like-minded people in our Republican party.
In a bar located in a small town near Bucharest, the trio compete for the title of who has the lowest number of leus, and at least one of them hasn’t a bani to his name. (If you want to convert from leu into dollars while you’re hearing denominations, a leu is twenty-five American cents.) As the three discuss the easiest way to win big leus—to bet on a game is the favorite. Buying a lottery ticket looks like the winning suggestion, particularly when they discover that the six numbers they pick will get them six million euros, which they had decided to split evenly. Just one problem: Dinel had put the ticket into his fanny pack, called here a bumbag, which is stolen from him by two thugs. To get the ticket back, they determine to track down the thugs, which takes them into several situations, meeting Romanians from various occupations and life styles.
With Pompiliu squeezed into the back of the car to show his least-favored position among friends, they set off and find a clairvoyant, a hooker, a little girl, a hitchhiker, a hotel clerk, with some of the principal incidents taking place in an apartment building where they ask each resident for clues to the location of the robbers. Each inhabitant has a distinct profession. The clairvoyant asks for several payments in return for answering questions. The hooker appears ready to join them on a trip to the seashore as she has not done much traveling while pursuing her career.
The hotel clerk gives them a clue that takes them to a Bucharest residence where they climb over the gateways to take back what is theirs. Needless to say, the robbers catch them in the act leading to some humorous, rather than frightful, moments.
If they never do find the ticket, at least Dinel will get a surprise at the end of the story in a comedy that some might call hilarious, but others, like me, cannot translate the language into some good laughs. I prefer to stick to the kinds of serious films they do so well, including “The Death of Mr. L?z?rescu” (an ill retired man is bounced from hospital to hospital); “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” (abortion in Communist Romania); and “Dogs” (smugglers make the law near the Romania-Ukraine border).
The movie is based on a short story by Romanian playwright Ion Luca Caragiale. In Romanian with English subtitles.
86 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – C
Acting – B-
Technical – B
Overall – C+