Radu Patru (Tudor Istodor) is a Romanian man working as a general problem solver – or Fixer – and translator in a French publication. When a scandal involving people trafficking and underage sex workers hits both France and Romania, Radu is challenged with getting an interview with one of the underage girls caught up in the scandal. The trouble is that since Anca (Diana Spatarescu) is under 18, and her family don’t seem very bothered about where their daughter was for a month, this job is a lot harder than it seems.
Screening at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, The Fixer has already won the prestigious Post Republic Award at the Sarajevo International Film Festival last year, which granted €50,000 toward post production work on the film. The Fixer is the story of the researchers behind journalists, and just how far they should be willing to go for a story.
Tudor Istodor leads the cast as the Romanian Fixer for the French news team. It is he that solves the problems that his native country throws up, all while struggling with the question as to whether he is a good example for his young son. Istodor makes Radu the conscience of the film, although it is not until the final act of the film that his true fears and apprehensions come to light. Diana Spatarescu plays the young girl forced into prostitution in Paris, and while she has a rather small role in the film, it is she that overshadows the entire story, and when the audience finally gets to meet her, it is clear that this is a young woman who is a lot older than her young years. The rest of the cast features Sorin Cocis, Mehdi Nebbou and Adrian Titieni.
Screenwriters Adrian Silisteanu and Claudia Silisteanu allow the international sex scandal at the heart of The Fixer to inform the film, but also make sure that for most of the story, Radu and his French colleagues are removed enough from the emotion of the story to be able to sing and dance in restaurants, tease one another as they drive and generally go about living their lives as they chase down an interview. The interview with Anca’s family is interesting as it shows a cultural disregard for those who go missing, and the final interview of the film is one that underlines the fact that there is a lot more going on with the story than the journalists think, but since they are not police, they are simply in search of the best story.
As director Adrian Silisteanu allows the film to meander through the adventure of seeking out the interview, and shows the cultural differences between France and Romania carefully and almost without judgement. There are times when the pacing of the film lags, leaving the audience to wonder whether the sought after interview will actually go ahead and, although Radu is very focused on his relationship with his son, the patience he shows his work is notably absent in this relationship, and it comes and goes erratically throughout the film, without really giving the audience much of a sense of the dynamic.
In all, The Fixer is an interesting look at the people behind the journalists, and one man’s struggle not to apologise for his home country, but not to show it in too negative a light. Tudor Istodor is strong in the leading role, but while there are some powerful moments throughout the film, the meandering pacing lets the film down.