Sign up for our free newsletter
To hear filmmaker Horatiu Malaele tell it, small-town communist Romania was a magical place. In Silent Wedding, Malaele stocks his 1950s Romanian village with fanciful roaming circuses, barefoot forest fairies, dads who gleefully sexually harass their daughters, and lovebirds who indulge in earth-shattering premarital sex in public spaces. Even Stalinist rule can’t get these villagers down. Whenever inept communist leaders deliver an absurd directive to the townspeople, the village always manages to satisfy the intrusion with some whimsical solution. But Stalin threatens to disrupt the idyllic village when he up and dies. When the lovebirds’ impending wedding is interrupted by communist-imposed mourning for Stalin, the villagers decide to mute their instruments, gag the children, and celebrate a perfectly silent wedding. Malaele’s magical-realist village provides a charming set piece for this tale, but the film excels when its rose-colored treatment gives way to a more realistic—and threatening—tone.