2024 Milwaukee Film Festival: Day Eleven “Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World”

Heading into the Milwaukee Film Festival I had a few movies circled as must see with DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD atop that list. As the 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival winds down, that choice looks especially good as DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD emerged as one of the very best of the film festival and is in the running for best of the year.

DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD follows a day plus in the life of Angela (Ilinca Manolache) as a harried production assistant who’s worked too many 16 hour days and is tasked with finding the focus of a safety video for a corporation. Angela is likely too intelligent for this job, Proust sits on her nightstand, and she finds an outlet in her satirical alter ego Bobita, an Andrew Tate style Dude Bro, in remarkably profane Tik Tok videos. But mostly she drives through really aggressive traffic with the radio blaring loudly so she can stay awake and deals with the frustrations of her exploitative job in a gig economy.

Into that is intercut scenes from the 1980s film ANGELA MOVES ON about a taxi driver in Bucharest under the Communist regime which offers some really pointed questions about how much life has improved under capitalism. Sure, everyone has cars, but you can’t get anywhere because the roads are congested, the drivers are overly aggressive, and everyone is angry all the time.

Communist corruption and incompetence has been replaced by Capitalist corruption and incompetence. And you can’t easily address that corruption in either time as while they may not throw you in jail now, you can be certainly economically shut out if you manage to offend the wrong corporate stooge. And maybe you had time to get some sleep in those days or watch a whole movie like CASABLANCA while now you’re lucky if you can fit in some Tik Tok videos.

Either way it appears that Romanians are being exploited by outside forces. And this is supposed to be progress?

That’s some of the major points of what DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD is about. I’m leaving out a major part of the experience. As Roger Ebert was known to say, a movie isn’t what it’s about, it’s how it’s about it. And DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD is about it in the most vulgar, satirical, in your face, savage way it can be.

Radu Jude’s film is one of the most of the moment films I can think of. It feels like it was conceived and created 5 minutes ago. While Hollywood has pretty much retreated into fantasy without much to say about the state of the world. DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD is all about the state of the world. In all its ridiculous excess. And while it’s angry about it, it also embraces the ridiculous and decides that the funniest thing is just to hold up a mirror to all of our current foibles. Such as the big cameo being infamous director Uwe Boll.

It culminates in an audacious third act which is basically an extended one take of the shooting of the safety video. With it becoming rapidly apparent that the problem was the dangerous conditions, left over from the Communist regime, that the Capitalist corporation never bothered to fix, no profit in it, and that wearing all the personal protective equipment wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. And the indignities and corporate manipulation add up to ridiculous extremes so that any good intention is lost in the process. Except for the laughs the audience gets.

DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD is vulgar, savage, and ridiculous. Just like the world we’re currently living in. It’s a can’t miss film.

Time is running out. The 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from April 11, 2024 until April 25, 2024. Tickets can be purchased via MKEFILM.ORG.