Additional Venice Film Festival reviews

Venice Film Festival, Venice Days

VENICE -- Romanian director Adrian Sitaru's smart little fable "Hooked" tells of a man and his married lover who go for a clandestine picnic in the countryside and meet a young woman who seriously complicates their relationship.

With Sitaru handling almost all duties except cinematography and music, the film is shot entirely from the point of view of the characters. That is claustrophobic in the opening scenes in which Iubi (Iloana Flora) picks up Mihai (Adrian Titieni) and they flirt and bicker on the drive to the picnic spot.

But Sitaru knows what he's doing and the tight close-ups serve to enhance what follows, as the lovers' day out takes a very surprising turn. The film's style may turn off mainstream audiences but it's a lively yarn that should thrive at festivals and may catch some enterprising producer's eye with a remake in mind.

The couple's encounter with sexy and talkative Ana (Maria Dinulescu) unleashes all their worries and concerns about their relationship. Iubi is unsure about leaving her husband while Mihai, who has just quit his job as a mathematics teacher over a matter of principal, is having second thoughts about his idealism.

Jealousy, envy and resentment all surface as Ana teases with probing questions and flirts enticingly with each of them. The acting is very good, especially by the bubbly Dinulescu in a difficult role.

Couples will find lots to identify with in Sitaru's examination of romance, especially as he plants the notion that Ana may not actually exist.

Production companies: 4Proof Film, Movie Partners in Motion Film.  Cast: Adrian Titieni, Ioana Flora, Maria Dinulescu. Director, screenwriter, producer, executive producer, editor: Adrian Sitaru.  Producers: Juliette Lepoutre, Marie-Pierre Macia. Director of photography: Adrian Silisteanu.  Music: Cornel Ilie. Sales agent: Reza. Not rated, 84 minutes.