POPPY FIELD (CÂMP DE MACI)
Eugen Jebeleanu | Romania | 2021 | 82 min | ROMANIAN S.-T.F.
A visit from his openly gay, French Muslim boyfriend and an escalating homophobic incident while at work as a gendarme (a specialized Romanian officer who deals with high-risk situations) sends Cristi into a tailspin. Risking his career, Cristi gives in to his impulses and paces the edge of danger, like a tiger in a cage.
Inspired by real-life protests at a Bucharest cinema, Poppy Field contrasts the lustful, laughing chemistry between Cristi (Conrad Mericoffer) and Hadi (Radouan Leflahi) with the strict duties of a gendarme. Numbed to triggering conversation, Cristi’s reserve starts to buckle when he is identified as a former fling by a man caught up in an ultra-national religious backlash. Intense long takes rove restlessly, like Cristi’s emotional life, while close-ups investigate the crumbling calm on his face and the heated exchanges with his comrades. Attuned to the complexity of the at turns tender and toxic stew of the force, filmmaker Eugen Jebeleanu interrogates the concepts of recognition and discretion, and the subtle ways the needle gets pushed.