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TRANSYLVANIA(director/writer: Tony Gatlif; cinematographer: Celine Bozon; editor: Monique Dartonne; music: Tony Gatlif/Delphine Mantoulet; cast: Asia Argento (Zingarina), Birol Unel (Tchangalo), Amira Casar (Marie), Alexandra Beaujard (Luminitsa), Marco Castoldi (Milan), Beata Palya (Cabaret singer); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Christian Paumier/Doru Mitran; Princes Films; 2006-France-in French, Romanian, Romany and English with English subtitles)
“No vampires.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Another gypsy road movie from Algerian-born and France based writer-director Tony Gatlif (“Gadjo Dilo”/”Latcho Drom”/”Exils”). This time he’s in the boonies of Transylvania, Romania, with a sullen, sultry and two months pregnant single Italian woman named Zingarina (Asia Argento) and no vampires. She met in France her gypsy musician, Milan (Marco Castoldi), and fell in love with him. But he was deported. She then goes to find him with her two friends, Marie (Amira Casar) and Luminitsa (Alexandra Beaujard). Upon finally finding him and hearing that he doesn’t love her and wasn’t deported but ran away from her, instead of going to Italy she deserts her best friend Marie and goes on her own strange journey across the unfamiliar Romany landscape where she hooks up with Tchangalo (Birol Unel), an itinerant peddler, who falls in love with her.

The overly romantic film is good on gypsy atmosphere, imagery, location shots and music, but there’s not much of a story and the direction is limited. Argento makes for an involving heroine, but she’s not given much to say that reaches the mind and for angst runs into the snowy woods ever so often and screeches in horror. Unel fares only slightly better, as he has a gruff exterior but a tender heart and gives off hang-dog expressions while he aches for Argento to love him. The two are depicted as multilingual outsiders trying to survive in a harsh place to live, who bond together in desperation in the snowbound world where they are travelers who have lost track of their roots.

REVIEWED ON 11/15/2007 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”