Directed by: #RobertEugenPopa
Ambitious to a fault, Romanian short film Veni, Vidi, Fugi: I Came, I Saw, I Fled attempts to thread together a number of plots and sub plots in its half-an-hour running time. Whilst director Robert Eugen Popa (who co-writes here with Timothy M. Brice) manages to bring an eclectic mix of filmmaking, #storytelling, and themes to his movie, the piece struggles to maintain its balance whilst coping with the chaos.
Set in 1989, Paul Octavian Diaconescu plays K, a fairly rubbish Latin student whose academic future looks shaky at best. When his formidable teacher (Maia Morgenstern) sets him the challenge of unearthing the truth behind a Roman poet's exile, his chances look much improved when the poet Ovid (Constatin Florescu) himself materialises and offers to aid his quest. However, Latin is not K's only concern. His hopes to find love with an off-bounds daughter of an important man get crossed with his dealings with the local loan sharks.
Much like someone's attempt to unpick Roman history in thirty minutes, Veni, Vidi, Fugi: I Came, I Saw, I Fled was never going to fully accomplish its mission. Too many strands are being loosely connected and K's incredibly complicated life never comes into full focus. There is a cacophony of characters milling around the set and the audience never fully understands who is important and who is not. The filmmaker has stated the script was originally intended for a feature length movie. Due to budget constraints, a short film approach was taken which is a shame because there is definitely enough material here.
The chemistry between Paul Octavian Diaconescu and Constatin Florescu is easily the most enjoyable aspect of the indie film and certainly something that needed the full attention of the storytellers. It was more than enough to go on, perhaps with a simpler love interest angle, but the criminal aspect (whilst intriguing) just made the plot too thick to swallow. That being said, their performances along with Maia Morgenstern are excellent. The latter of whom is particularly strong (see her also in The Passion of the Christ, and Ulysses' Gaze).
Robert Eugen Popa does prove himself to be a capable #filmmaker, however, by using strong editing and numerous locations to keep his film snappy. The viewer never feels overwhelmed by the complicated story because Popa keeps a peppy pace. There were some impressive moments of cinematography, especially a sequence where K looks out onto the coastline.
We came, we saw, we tried to keep up and whilst the experience was exciting and varied there was a palpable lack of control that ultimately trips anyone up who tries to embrace every aspect and nuance of the piece. Sometimes simpler is better, even in a story about Latin.
Watch the official movie trailer below.