Unidentified Image


By Michael Talbot-Haynes | September 15, 2022

Slide down the banister of a stairway into darkness in director Bogdan George Apetri’s excellent Unidentified. Florin Lespas (Bogdan Farcas) is a police detective in a small city in Romania. He is a grim character who doesn’t laugh at the jokes made by his chief, Comisar Sef (Vasile Muraru). Florin hassles the chief about taking over a case from a colleague on vacation involving two luxury hotels, owned by the same party, that were burned down in a short period, resulting in deaths.

The cop is convinced Banel (Dragos Dumitru), a gypsy who worked part-time as a security guard at the hotels, committed arson for his employer to receive insurance money. The owner has one more hotel, and Florin says it’ll burn down next. He wants to bring Banel back in to work a confession out of him, though the other detective already cleared him. Comisar tells him absolutely not that it is the other guy’s case and it will be worked on once he is back. Florin swipes the case files anyway and drags Banel back in for questioning. He screams at the man, showing him the pictures of the charred corpses of the victims. The alleged perpetrator is terrified and keeps insisting on his innocence. Florin tells Banel to meet him in the station parking lot the next morning, or he will go after him.

Meanwhile, Florin’s colleagues keep asking about the money he has borrowed. He keeps getting angry phone calls from his friend Mircea (Andrei Aradits) at the bank about how Florin has stopped paying bills and is about to lose everything. Obsessed, Florin stakes out the burnt down hotels and the remaining one, then starts walking a twisted path of an unapproved loose cannon investigation. His methods become more erratic and questionable while everything around him keeps falling apart.

“…two luxury hotels…were burned down in a short period, resulting in deaths.”

Unidentified is a symphony of desperation in the European neo-noir tradition. It immediately establishes the lead as a man slipping off the cliff of society and using this case as a way to hang on. His is a dark world that is unshaven and sweating. While Florin moves to solve the mystery of the fires, we are consumed by the mystery of the fires inside of him. The audience is kept in the delicious dark of having access to his actions but not his overall plans. With each rule he breaks to get closer, he becomes more unraveled and violent. Florin is like a vast black lake with a sea monster somewhere in the depths.

The compelling screenplay by Apetri and Iulian Postelnicu gets down to business fast and swiftly propels us further towards the black. As more of the mystery is revealed, we are plunged into more and more ghastly places. The climax is a black diamond of ugliness and is quite gorgeous in a nasty way.

As a director, Aperti has a minimalist style that yields impressive results. The film repeatedly uses the sound of rain and thunder in the background like the classic noirs used shadows. This provides an expressionistic avenue into the feelings hidden under the sweat. The director uses big, meaty takes that run several minutes, allowing the actors to inhabit their characters fully. The performances have the honest intensity of a serious live play. Dumitru literally looks scared to death while under interrogation, with this awesome tear from the eye in the perfect spot. However, the show belongs to Farcas, who gives a rogue cop performance of the same caliber as the ones in the Bad Lieutenant movies. He exudes the same deadly coldness found in the eye of a great white shark. Fracas pulls us down with him, and we love it.

Unidentified is a superior portrait of the abyss that yawns beneath so many. It is a movie that must be seen by as many as possible.

For more information about Unidentified, visit FilmMovement.com.

Unidentified (2022)

Directed: Bogdan George Apetri

Written: Bogdan George Apetri, Iulian Postelnicu

Starring: Bogdan Farcas, Dragos Dumitru, Vasile Muraru, Andrei Aradits, Ana Popescu, Kira Hagi, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Unidentified Image

"…must be seen by as many as possible."

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