More an existential dilemma than a corruption thriller, Tudor Giurgiu’s Why Me? is an important but longwinded tribute to the man who fought the law.
Police, Adjectiveby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Loosely inspired by the events that led to the suicide of police prosecutor Cristian Panait, Why Me? takes on the thorny issue of corruption in Romania, which saw the country’s prime minister and Ceausescu’s secret service Securitate neatly co-opted into the state security service, the SRI. Like an Indian rope trick indeed. Changing the put-upon hero’s name to Panduru, Tudor Giurgiu’s intention is clear, gradually revealing the Pandora’s Box exposed by the police prosecutor when he’s put on a no-win case to investigate a corrupt court judge – a thorn in the side of his even more corrupt seniors. Rather than a tense, labyrinthine thriller, De Ce Eu? emerges as a moody drama of who-to-trust paranoia, betrayal and bribes. And while it’s a worthy tribute to a man who finds himself unable to play along and an important piecing together of the skeletons in the Romanian government’s newly renovated closets, Why Me? remains a rather detached and long-winded depiction of a man in crisis. It’s a great performance from Emilian Oprea as Panduru – a powerful man reduced to a nervous wreck. But with a script that doesn’t quite get under the skin of his decisions not to collaborate or to commit suicide, Why Me? isn’t quite the damning body of evidence it should be.
Why Me? is now showing at the 65th Berlin Film Festival