One Floor Below
(Radu Muntean)

Teodor Corban and Iulian Postelnicu in a scene from Radu Muntean's One Floor Below {Photo: FILM BOUTIQUE}

Teodor Corban and Iulian Postelnicu in a scene from Radu Muntean's One Floor Below {Photo: FILM BOUTIQUE}

One Floor Below screens on Sunday, March 20 and Thursday, March 24. For additional ticketing information, please refer to the Gene Siskel Film Center's website here.

Radu Muntean’s One Floor Below begins with a scenario that would be familiar with anyone who has lived in an apartment complex. Patrascu (Teodor Corban) eavesdrops on an argument occurring in the apartment below, a boyfriend and girlfriend going at it. The boyfriend Vali (Iulian Postelnicu) emerges from the apartment, hurried, and eyes down Patrascu. What could’ve just been an embarrassing voyeuristic moment gets complicated when it’s discovered that the woman living in the apartment has been murdered.

As is the Romanian New Wave fashion, Muntean observes the situation for its stillness. This realist approach made his previous film, the superb Tuesday, After Christmas, stirring as it coalesced well with that film’s love triangle. The realist hook made that film’s mounting infidelities carry significant weight. But I’m not certain that One Floor Below really gets to any specific moment of clarity or anxiety-building, in large part because lead actor Teodor Corban is so vacant in his performance. This Bresson-esque sense of performance is not matched with any sort of real formal acuity, making it a difficult picture to appreciate from any angle.