Another exhausting day of work for me today, so today is another one film day. However, it almost counts as two as it’s a film that appears on both the Oscar short list for international feature and documentary feature. While that doesn’t really count as watching two films, it’s as close as I was able to get today. I’m taking a personal day tomorrow, so I should definitely have more than one in my entry tomorrow.
Collective (2020, Dir. Alexander Nanau)
I’ve complained a few times this year already about the dated documentary style of utilizing talking heads to convey a message. If the films I’ve watched prior have frustrated me, Collective exemplifies everything that documentaries can be. Rather than recite facts to the audience over archival footage, Collective allowed the cameras in the room from the beginning to shoot a documentary in the style of All the President’s Men (1976, Dir. Alan J. Pakula). This strategy allows the film to more closely follow the golden rule of cinema: show don’t tell.
A fire in a concert venue, the titular Collective, leads to numerous burn victims who have their care botched. This leads investigators at the Gazeta Sporturilor to uncover extensive corruption that plagued the Romanian medical system. The film does a great job of balancing style with subject. Despite a narrative framing, the film is shot clinically with no non-diegetic sound. While this would be a poor decision in an actual narrative film, by keeping this more sterile technique one never forgets that they are watching a documentary and that the atrocities that are being uncovered are not subject to hyperbole. A wonderful blend of storytelling and informing.