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Year: 2007
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Armand Assante, Razvan Vasilescu, Jamie Elman, Maria Dinulescu, Alex Margineanu, Ion Sapdaru, Alexandru Dragoi, Andrei Vasluianu, Sabina Branduse, Gabriel Spahiu, Radu Gabriel, Constantin Dita, Eduard Dumitru
Director: Cristian Nemescu
Country: Romania
Language: Romanian / Spanish / Italian (English subtitles)
UK: 155 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language, sex and one scene of strong violence
UK Release Date: 30 May 2008 (Limited Release)

Official UK website


US Marine Captain Doug Jones (Armand Assante) is assigned to escort a train carrying NATO equipment headed for Yugoslavia during the war in Kosovo. His mission is delayed when an over officious station master, Doiaru (Razvan Vasilescu), stops the train at his small, godforsaken village over a paperwork technicality.

The village community goes overboard welcoming the Americans, as they intend to maximise their profit from the US soldiers unexpected presence. The troops join the game and even Doiaru's own daughter, Monica (Maria Dinulescu) has a brief affair with Sgt McLaren (Jamie Elman). But Cpt Jones is becoming increasing frustrated at his lack of progress. Tired of waiting to get help from higher up, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

With more time on his hands than he would like he gets more and more involved with the locals. He stirs old arguments and reveals the real reason why Doiaru stopped his train. Finally at the end of five intense days, the train resumes its journey leaving behind broken hearts, broken dreams and a near civil war.

Director Cristian Nemescu brings together a train of US marines and a tiny Romanian village to highlight Romanians lengthy fascination with the 'elsewhere' and ultimately with America. At the end of World War II, the Romanian people wanted the Americans to rescue them from the Russians and communism; which didn't happen. CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' is a timely examination of geopolitical longing and a lack of interventionism.

The story is based on a real event which Cristi heard about while he was watching the TV news. "That train which came in 1999 did have a radar, there were not enough papers for it, because everybody had been in a hurry to let the train leave and because nobody thought that anybody might cause problems for that. At a certain moment, near Craiova, a few kilometres far from the place where it was supposed to arrive, it was halted in a small station; the station manager, due to his excessive zeal, started checking it according to all the railway regulations and indeed something was not right. The train was stopped there for half a day, and after that it resumed its way, reached the destination, but ironically it was already useless. Funny thing is that while going back it was halted again, because they still did not have the necessary papers.

"In fact, the idea of the train with American soldiers halted in some Romanian village is the only real thing, the rest of the situations and characters are fictitious". - Cristian Nemescu

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