Uppercase Print is a play, a case, an ugly memory, but at the same time an incredible film. The director? None other than Radu Jude. He is one of my favorite directors, and he never ceases to amaze me with every movie that he makes. He is extremely creative.
He is always coming up with something new be it a technique, or just an unexplored theme. He surely is a versatile director, and I think everyone can enjoy his movies (I’ve watch almost all of them, that’s why I’m sure).
Here’s the background before jumping into the review:
Firstly, Uppercase Print is a real case from the 80s (during that time, Romania was a communist country). Secondly, it is a play (a documentary drama if that’s a genre). Thirdly, it is a movie where you also have footage from the communist period.
What is so good about it?
#1st thing: the unusual technique.
At its core, Jude’s style is documentary-like. He is not interested in telling you a story, but showing you a story and reconstructing it as real as possible. Thus, the story seems authentic, convincing, and at times devastating (as it is in Aferim!, or I don’t care if we go down in history as barbarians).
In Uppercase Print, this technique goes further by being merged with footage from the National Archive of Romania. It feels even more real and dangerous to live during that time.
#2nd thing: the stories and their realism
The first story is about a teenage boy that writes with white chalk on the walls messages about liberty and democracy. The secret police catches him, and now he is being questioned about these messages. And his family and friends too. That’s the real case.
The second story is about Romania and communism in Romania. Here the things are a bit ambiguous. Some seem okay, other exaggerated, but they amplify the background of the case one way or another. It is real footage after all.
#3rd thing: controversial choices
The actors don’t act. You cannot read emotions because they do not have emotions, perhaps icy-cold looks at best. The language is different, and it shows how different people used to speak in communism versus the present. The setting is simple, retro, with neon lights. Highly unusual.
The real footage acts as a sort of distraction from the main case, but it is still catchy. This footage is noisy, colorful or spectacular sometimes unlike the case which is deadly serious and soundless.
It is a good balance between the two of them, which enables a satirical sub-tone and some jokes sporadically.
What it is not so good about it?
It’s a bit repetitive. Not the movie itself, but the use of footage at regular intervals. It can be quite annoying, especially when you are used to communism and films about communism.
When it comes to think about Romanian cinema, a great deal of movies revolves around communism, its impact or life during communism. If you are an avid watcher of Romanian cinema or Romanian, this theme might get boring and annoying.
Despite being presented different in Uppercase Print, it is still tiring to hear about it all the time.
Should I watch it?
It is entirely up to you. If you are not so well-informed on communism or communism in Romania, then Uppercase Print is your comprehensive guide to it. It offers a good picture of it, tiny details being left out. It doesn’t have so much emotion, so it is also more objective. You can do your own research later.
If you know a lot about communism, and you are tired to hear about it, then it would be better not to watch Uppercase Print. You will not find something new regarding the information. However, you will see a unique technique of presenting it. And it might be catchy.
It’s two hours long, so it does not take that much to watch it.