'Gadjo' reveals raw Gypsy life Review: A movie about a 'crazy outsider' among Gypsies in Romania isn't pretty, but it does ring true.

November 23, 1998|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

One of the most important and magical functions of a movie is to take its audience to another world. Sometimes that world is one of pure imagination. But sometimes a film like "Gadjo Dilo" comes along and opens up a universe that's right in your own back yard.

Well, maybe the next yard over. "Gadjo Dilo," which opens today at the Orpheum Cinema, takes place in Romania, a country not as far away in miles as it is in time.

A young Parisian named Stephane (Romain Duris) has arrived, tape recorder in hand, to find the Gypsy singer who obsessed his late father. Cold and alone, one night he meets an elderly man named Izidor (Isidor Serban), who tells Stephane that he knows the singer well and bids the young man follow him to his home.

In Izidor's Gypsy enclave, Stephane realizes that he has become a surrogate for Izidor's son, who is in prison. As Izidor leads the young man on, Stephane becomes more and more ensconced in this fascinating community and its rituals, finally falling in love with a fiery, temperamental dancer named Sabina (Roma Hartner).

"Gadjo Dilo" means "crazy outsider" in Romanian, and filmgoers may well find themselves wondering who's crazier: Stephane with his Quixotic quest or Izidor, a crafty manipulator whose mercurial moods may well mask a much deeper method.

Although filmmaker Tony Gatlif's production is crude-looking, it is altogether appropriate for the spontaneous, powerfully emotional songs and celebrations his camera captures. Indeed, the star of "Gadjo Dilo" is probably the music, which infuses and informs just about every moment of a Gypsy's life, from birth to marriage to death.

Raw and bursting with life, "Gadjo Dilo" and the people it documents aren't always pretty to look at. But its very charmlessness is what makes this movie such an authentic and potent portrait. "Gadjo Dilo" presents a rare and invaluable opportunity to glimpse a part of the world that seems increasingly left behind by the rest.

The film is showing at the Orpheum Cinema, 1724 Thames St., today through Sunday.

'Gadjo Dilo'

Starring Romain Duris, Rona Hartner, Isidor Serban

Directed by Tony Gatlif

Released by Lions Gate Films

Unrated (language, some sexuality)

Running time 97 minutes

Sun score ***

Pub Date: 11/23/98

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