Lucian Pintilie had something pressing to say in his whirlwind of a drama, “Terminus Paradis” [Eng. Title: Next Stop Paradise], and he certainly pulls no punches in getting the message across.
He shows us a post-communist Romania where love is at a premium, family members are selfish (a recurring Pintilie theme), and where newly won freedoms are not all it’s cracked up to be in a dog-eat-dog world, and working the system will get you further than plain integrity and hard work.
Mitu is a pig farmer, forced to take up the job after his dreams are sacrificed in order to prolong his father’s career – he’s never forgiven his dad for that. He meets and falls in love with Norica, a waitress at a greasy roadside café, after a one-night stand. But Norica has other plans – she’s already engaged to her employer, and thinks that’s the best option she has for the time being. But before Mitu can convince her otherwise and win her over, he’s drafted for conscription duties. With his mind elsewhere, he frequently gets into trouble at the military camp, and before long, thanks to a misadventure with a stolen tank, is sent to a brutal correctional facility. When Norica writes to Mitu asking him to forget her so that she could move on, all hell breaks loose, after he escapes from the facility, intent on finishing off his love-rival. But the cycle of violence, once unleashed, takes a life of its own, leading to outcomes that none, let alone Mitu, could have anticipated…
The film sets the tone when it starts with an escaped conscript being hunted down like an animal by both the internal security and the military. It is a brutal critique of a system that apparently breeds incompetence and contempt, by confining its people’s movements and freedom of choice. And those who insist on making their own way will have to wait until they reach Terminus paradis, to realise their own dreams – this bitter truth is presented with a dash of comedy that’s pretty dark at times. It is violent, yet thought-provoking, and remains one of my favourite works from Pintilie. The performances by the main cast is also of a very high standard, particularly that of Dorina Chiriac and Costel Cascaval who play Norica and Mitu respectively. Highly Recommended Viewing..!
The Nudity: Dorina Chiriac, Costel Cascaval, and other actors
There is some nudity in the film, mostly from the male actors that include the protagonist, played by Costel Cascaval. The extremely cute Dorina Chiriac – a Pintilie-regular along with many in the cast, appears in several scenes of implied nudity in addition to some brief flashes in passing.