Miracle Image


By Jason Delgado | June 2, 2022

Writer/director Bogdan George Apetri’s Romanian film Miracle is a slow-paced, beautifully shot psychological crime drama. There are many long takes, which add to the realism of the story of a young nun in training (they call her a novice at the monastery because she isn’t a nun yet) named Cristina Tofan (Ioana Bugarin). After leaving the monastery for the day, she’s brutally raped and beaten during a horrific scene almost halfway in. Apetri expertly doesn’t actually show much of the heinous crime, but Bugarin’s terrifying screams say it all while making the ordeal that much more heartbreaking.

The first forty-eight minutes of this hour and fifty-eight-minute movie is spent following Cristina as she sneaks away from the convent to take a cab to a doctor’s appointment. When she tries to take another taxi back to the monastery is the moment tragedy strikes. There isn’t any mystery as to who the perpetrator of the crime is because the filmmaker lets the audience know via the use of dramatic irony. Hence, the real mystery is why Cristina snuck away from the monastery in the first place and, more importantly, what fate will befall the person who assaulted her. All of the information comes out in bits and pieces with a slow burn, allowing the tension to build.

After the crime, the majority of Miracle is spent following Detective Marius Preda (Emanuel Parvu) as he investigates the rape and tries to pin down evidence on the suspect Cristina named from the hospital. Unfortunately, he’ll be free in a matter of hours if the cop doesn’t find anything substantial. Preda takes the case to heart and will do anything to “make the scumbag pay for what he did.” Emanuel Parvu plays the role with a quiet, burning intensity that allows the audience to relate to him and his strong desire for justice.

“…following Detective Marius Preda as he investigates the rape and tries to pin down evidence on the suspect…”

While some may find the slow pacing to be a detriment, I found it to be captivating because of the expert filmmaking style of Apetri. The exceptional performances of the two leads, Bugarin and Parvu, also held my attention. The pacing allows the audience to live in the skin of Cristina and Detective Preda, to see their point of view on the world and the drama at hand. The film also has some interesting commentary and critiques of Romanian life (some are universal no matter the country, like the older generations expressing contempt for the state of modern music), which beautifully comes through in the dialogue of various characters.

This is not a happy movie, but neither was Se7en, and I still adored that crime drama. Fincher’s picture was more serial killer and gore-fueled, but both Miracle and Se7en have darkness and mystery that are satisfying for fans of the genre. The real miracle of this film is in its performances and direction.

Mirable is the second part of a trilogy, with Apetri’s Unidentified being the first. That movie is said to have featured some of the same characters and a similar dark mood. I hope that the third entry will be the crescendo of darkness and a highlight of modern Romanian cinema, much like this is.

For screening information about Miracle, visit the Film Movement website.

Miracle (2022)

Directed and Written: Bogdan George Apetri

Starring: Ioana Bugarin, Emanuel Parvu, Cezar Antal, Ovidiu Crisan, Valeriu Andriuta, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Miracle Image

"…a highlight of modern Romanian cinema..."

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