In a small isolated village, in 1953, a wedding is interrupted by the news about the death of Stalin. Because any public celebration is forbidden, they decide to turn the happy event into a silent wedding.
Meda Andreea Victor,
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Weddings are sometimes odd gatherings that bring together people from different backgrounds, nationalities, identities. Films about weddings have been used too describe not only the folkloric aspects of tradition, but also to deal with rather serious issues beyond relationships - social and national gaps, stereotypes, fear of 'the other'. The best of them succeeded in mixing the 'easy' and relaxed approach with attentive description of the characters and of the truth beyond the appearances. I can now think at examples as Mira Nair's "Monsoon Wedding" or Joel Zwick's "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". In 2009 the fashion reached Eastern Europe when Romanian and Moldavian cinema studios got together to make "Wedding in Bessarabia" (or "Nunta in Basarabia") directed by Nap Toader.
There are many ways this film can be see and commented. One can start at the historical metaphor level, with the Romanian groom marrying the Moldavian bride which is also more ore less openly courted by the Russian pretender. The history of Bessarabia, the Eastern half of historic Moldavia fallen at the beginning of the 19th century under imperial Russia rule, unified and becoming part of the Great Romania exactly 100 years ago, only to fall back under the Soviet rule during World War II as a result of the pact between Hitler and Stalin, could fit well the scenario. However, director Nap Toader chose to focus on contemporaneity and more exactly on the cultural, language and morality differences between the different classes of characters: the relatively 'westernized' Romanian from the West of the border, the Moldavians torn and divided themselves between their (long time oppressed) Romanian identity and the Russian influence. All characters are living at their own pace the process of transition between the Communist rule and democracy and modernity which are slow to show their benefits in this part of the world, with corruption, demagogy and even crime putting pressure on life at national and personal level. The wedding itself has its own dynamics, and the Romanian cinema has its own tradition of using the theme as a metaphoric space where tradition is invaded by reality and sometimes small history meets big history - see as example Horatiu Malaele's "Silent Wedding" ("Nunta muta") made just one year before this film.
The identity problems of Bessarabia and the political issues related to the possible re-unification in the future are complex and certainly cannot be dealt with all in one film. They even become more complicated in the years since this film was made, as the Republic of Moldova stepped back on certain respects from its path of getting closer to Romania and joining Europe. I am not familiar with other works of Moldavian cinema or literature that deal with these issues - they may exist but I do not know them. In their absence, I would take this film as what it is - a snapshot of the identity crisis of the Moldavian society and of the relationship with the rest of the Romanian nation, treated in a light manner, without making any definitive judgments. The film succeeds to entertain and without eluding the tough questions, and without pretending to provide solutions. Certainly the stereotypes are present, but please show me any ethnic comedy that can completely avoid them. The older and younger actors make a great job, and it is sufficient to see Vlad Logigan and Victoria Bobu looking at each other to understand that their love is genuine and this is a marriage to last, despite all the difficulties. Maybe here lies the optimistic message of this film.
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