Tony Gatlif’s latest musing on Romany life is a visually stunning road movie that attempts to evoke the freewheeling spirit of Fellini’s La Strada.
Wild-eyed Zingarina (Asia Argento) discovers she is pregnant and heads to Romania (where Gatlif also shot his hitherto most commercially successful film Gadjo Dilo) to tell her Gypsy musician lover Milan (Italian rock star Marco Castoldi, father in real life of Argento’s child) that he’s about to become a papa.
It’s a land where music seems to photosynthesise out of the trees, and the roads are banked by instruments. In myth, Transylvania is a place that is also likely to suck you dry and it quickly dawns on Zingarina that her ex-lover has dumped her. This gives her an excuse to go off the rails and it’s when dealing with humans in turmoil that Gatlif, who has never been one for great plotting, excels.
Zingarina abandons her travelling companions Marie (Amira Casar) and Lumintsa (Alexandra Beaujard). She runs into the arms of trader Tchangalo (Birol Ünel, in a role reminiscent of the character he played in Fatih Akin’s Head On). Clunky dialogue and weak plotting impede some of the more visceral and visual pleasures here but this is another fine example of Gatlif’s osmotic, unique, connective, free-form cinema.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh, from Fri 21-Thu 27 Sep.