One of the many virtues of Sebastian Mihăilescu’s startling first feature "Mammalia" is that you never know where he’s taking you. From one scene to another, the film is always unpredictable, even disconcerting. This is the same feeling Camil (István Téglás), a troubled young man, experiences. He feels diminished and insecure with the women around him, especially with his partner, who disappears to join a secret community of women dedicated to eerie fertility rituals somewhere near a lake. But "Mammalia" rejects the very notion of synopsis. In the surrealist tradition, Mihăilescu works with free associations, some of them as funny as they are unsettling, like when the shadow of Camil’s bald head over his partner's naked body begins to look like a huge penis. A dream or wishful thinking? Masculinity and gender roles are always at stake in Mammalia, and always in crisis.
Shot on vivid 16mm by Barbu Bălăşoiu (DoP on Cristi Puiu’s "Sieranevada"), Mammalia privileges fixed shots with movements within the frame, and the use of space is always very expressive. Its weird humor is reminiscent of Roy Andersson. But Romania has its own tradition, that of Eugen Ionescu and The Theatre of the Absurd.
Source: 73. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin (Catalogue)