Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World

The great Romanian director Radu Jude is back with another topical and fantastically gonzo satire that's filled with invention, wit and furious anger

Film Review by Philip Concannon | 04 Mar 2024
  • Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World
Film title: Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World
Director: Radu Jude
Starring: Ilinca Manolache, Nina Hoss, Uwe Boll, László Miske, Dorina Lazar
Release date: 8 March 2024
Certificate: 18

No filmmaker is more plugged in to the current moment than Radu Jude. His 2021 film Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn was made at the height of the pandemic, and it was one of the first films to engage with the strange reality that we found ourselves in, with Jude seeking bold new cinematic forms to comment on our broken society as he saw it. Bad Luck Banging won Jude the Golden Bear in Berlin, but his follow-up, Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World, is an even more ambitious and accomplished achievement, and an even more scathing portrait of how we live now.

How do we live now? Perhaps how we survive now or how we exist now would be more apt. Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World is a portrait of life at the sharp end of 21st-century capitalism. Jude follows overworked and underpaid production assistant Angela as she drives around Bucharest conducting interviews with injured employees for a work safety video. Angela is played by Ilinca Manolache, and in a just world she’d have collected every available acting award over the past year for her blazingly charismatic performance here. She is especially memorable when she uses a TikTok filter to present herself as Bobita, a bald and goateed Andrew Tate-style influencer issuing misogynistic and right-wing missives on social media ("I’m like Charlie Hebdo, sucker!"), which is Angela’s means of letting off steam and briefly escaping from the exhausting drudgery of her day.

Jude uses Angela’s experiences to interrogate the state of post-communist Romania, occasionally drawing parallels with the Bucharest presented in the Ceaușescu-era drama Angela Moves On (1981), in which Dorina Lazar played the taxi-driving protagonist. It’s a country of cheap labour where the notorious German filmmaker Uwe Boll can shoot his non-union sci-fi schlock, and where the workers Angela meets – most left disabled or badly maimed – are willing to take the much-needed €500 to record a testimony that absolves the Austrian corporation (represented here by an icy Nina Hoss) of responsibility. Even in death there is no escape from this rapacious exploitation, as the final resting place of Angela's grandmother is set to be moved so a luxury apartment block can be built on that site.

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World runs for almost three hours but that running time never lags. It might feel sprawling and scattershot in its construction, but Jude is always in complete control of the rhythm. He knows just when to ramp up the energy and when to slow it down, with an extended photo montage late in the film proving particularly poignant. The final 40 minutes unfold in a single static take and it is a masterclass in deadpan satirical filmmaking, as we watch a victim of poor labour practices lose control of his narrative to corporate interests in real-time. Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World is frequently an exhilarating and hilarious experience, but the feeling that lingers afterwards is one of emptiness and despair. This is a stark look at the world we have made for ourselves, and the end is nigh.

Released 8 Mar by Sovereign; certificate 18