Sign up for our free newsletter
By the time Delia’s done eight increasingly painful takes for the commercial the teen and her family have driven to Bucharest to shoot, The Happiest Girl in the World’s excruciating realism—long minutes of looking for a parking space, washing hair, sneaking a cig—starts to soften into something remarkable. Director Radu Jude spends so much of his time (and yours) on the minutiae of Delia’s day that it’s hard to care why a kid who’s just won a nice car from a juice company is so sullen. That becomes clear as her father wheedles and bullies her to sign over the ride so he can “invest” the proceeds in what you just know is a doomed plan to open a B&B; the look on her face after she refuses him and he disowns her tells more of a story than most of the film does. Or maybe you’re just so starved for action at that point that you project your hopes on her, too.