Romania/France, 2008, 80 minutes
Sat, Apr 25 / 3:30 / Kabuki / HOOK25K
Mon, Apr 27 / 4:00 / Kabuki / HOOK27K
Fri, May 1 / 9:30 / Kabuki / HOOK01K
First-time director Adrian Sitaru has, you might say, an accidental hit on his hands: A slightly exasperated Sweetie (Ioana Flora, the Romanian Rachel Weisz) and her cranky beau Mihai (Adrian Titieni), an overworked teacher, are off for a picnic in the country. They hope some time away from the daily grind of Bucharest will be just the thing to jumpstart their relationship before it stalls out. But then, well outside the city, Mihai runs over a prostitute named Ana (Maria Dinulescu, California Dreamin’), who happens to be lying in the road. Thinking she’s a goner, he and Sweetie decide to bury her in the woods. When Ana miraculously revives, they can only feign relief and concern. Suddenly their picnic has a pest, only this one flaunts her cleavage and has an uncanny way of ingratiating herself with the picnickers. What begins as a walk in the park plays out like a nightmare of nature unloosed, as Ana cajoles and caresses her unwitting hosts. No babe in the woods, the impish Ana undoes the couple as she unearths jealousies and insecurities that push their relationship beyond the point of no return. In addition to winningly naturalistic performances and shrewd dialogue, Hooked uses hand-held camera and character POV to anxious, antsy effect, giving its exploration of conscience and commitment an immediacy both fresh and involving. The distracted glance, the curious detail and claustrophobic intimacy are all unsettling elements in this country idyll gone very wrong.