Dir.: Rares Ienasoaie; Documentary with Ioana Ienasoaie; France 2019,
Romanian born director/DoP/Sound designer Rares Ienasoaie has created a very personal feature documentary: having not met his sister Ioana for twelve years, he tracks her down living in a camper van, eking out an existence from detritus, a drug addict for most of her life.
“One day, I felt alone and I thought of my elder sister Ioana”. Ioana has not really disappeared, she travels because she wants to be forgotten. But Rares really misses her and takes his camera along on her nightly odyssey. Twelve years is a long time, even for siblings. It soon emerges her most recent relationship has come to an end – one of many endings. Ioana does read her correspondence but always finds a way to avoid contact. She loves the stories Rares tells – as long as they are kept in a mythical past. The present belongs to drugs and her dog. Ioana’s recalls being jealous at fourteen, and wanting a sporty man like her friend. She is thirty now, and does not even know what sporty means. Something she did not get – like everything else. When Rares asks her about the future the answer comes quickly: “I hope I will be still myself.” Whatever that is, because Ioana has to admit her drug dependency keeps her from having a real identity: they have put her life on hold pause. “I know, drugs are stopping me from being free”. Some of her friends have overcome their dependency on replacing it another drug, that of sexual elation. But love is not for her. “You think you are in love, and the other person is laughing at you. But with drugs, you are always aware of it – you self-destruct, but there is no chance of rejection”. The past always, the past: “The past defines us, if you don’t deal with it. I realise that I have not gotten over it: I still see myself as fat and ugly, even though I am not any more. But I don’t feel good”.
Most of the shots are taken in the back of the camper, the only light being Ioana’s headlamp. It comes as a shock when we suddenly move to a daytime shot down by the seaside. Another Ioana emerges, and suddenly there is colour. Rares is gradually trying to persuade Ioana to visit her family, their parents in particular. But Ioana is reluctant: “I’ll never feel ready, because I’ll never be able to put things right again. It not neutral territory” When Rares reminds her that Blicourt is not her childhood home, she refuses to accept it. “Only Compiegne, that’s the only place I feel comfortable”. When her brother insists that her parents definitely bought Blicourt for them, Ioana gets angry: “They can’t believe we wanted children. No grandchildren.” Rares plays down a putative meeting: “We won’t say anything, we’ll just say you’ll come and see them. We’ll pretend everything is fine. I can’t pretend I have no sister, I am an only child. I feel like the ungrateful son”.
The Missing One finally comes to a conclusion on the beach with the dog running around, swimming happily. Ioana leans against a rock. Nothing is spared, the darkness of the camper van shrouding everything in a mournful guise, Ioana going more backwards than forwards. Like a Becket play, everything stripped to the essential gloom. AS
42nd CINEMA DU RÉEL 2020 Paris France | 13-22 March 2020