Philanthropy | Chicago Reader

Philanthropy

Nae Caranfil's corrosively funny satire takes place in a faraway land populated by idle rich, working poor, and a middle class consisting entirely of stray dogs—in other words, contemporary Romania. An impoverished teacher at a private high school, living with his elderly parents and flacking his slender self-published volume of stories, falls for a sexy, high-maintenance model; to finance their courtship he moonlights for a bizarre agency that writes scripts for panhandlers and concocts elaborate frauds to collect alms from fat cats. Caranfil seldom troubles himself with logic—the teacher's scam involves dining cheaply at expensive restaurants, getting the waiter to present him with an inflated check, and using a sob story to get other customers to cover his meal, but how he manages to enlist the restaurant in helping him bilk its customers is never explained. On the other hand, one has to admire a film belligerent enough to classify charity as part of the capitalist power structure; the rage underlying Caranfil's humor goes down like an icy shot of vodka. In Romanian with subtitles. 110 min.

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