“Newspaper man….I’m a bookworm employed by a newspaper.”
Patrick Malahide played George Bucsan, an anxious, somewhat cowardly book reviewer (he describes himself as a “bookworm employed by a newspaper”), in the 1995 film Two Deaths. It is a very dark, complex film set during an annual gathering of old friends. This night, their 19th year, they gather in the large house of Dr. Daniel Pavenic (Michael Gambon).
Set in Eastern Europe, a revolution is blazing outside. They are constantly interrupted by wounded soldiers requiring the doctor’s help. Against this intense backdrop, the men discover each other’s dark secrets, with Dr. Pavenic’s being the most depraved. It is a complex story, so I’ll essentially focus on Bucsan’s POV.
The Guests Arrive
George Bucsan first appears as he is being driven to the party. As he goes through the street, there is gun fire and explosions. Eventually he arrives at Pavenic’s home and is let in by a somber but elegant housekeeper, Ana Puscasu (Sonia Braga). She tells him to make himself a drink. Eventually two other friends appear: Carl Dalakis (Ion Caramitru) and Marius Vernescu (Nickolas Grace).
“I’ve never known a man with more rumors about than Pavenic..”
They speculate that Pavenic must be corrupt because of his beautiful house. “I’ve never known a man with more rumors about him than Pavenic,” muses George, “only half of them are true.” As they talk, Ana is upstairs gently cleaning what appears to be an invalided man.
As the men catch up on their lives, we learn that George has been a widower for ten years. Marius, especially besotted with Pavenic’s lifestyle, grabs a photo of a beautiful young woman from the mantle, showing it to George who declares her “stunning.” Marius and Carl speculate on who she might be, unaware of the resemblance she has to Ana the housekeeper who is walking in and out of the room.
Growing uncomfortable over Marius’ story.
Their assumptions are unpleasant. Marius thinks she might be a girl who was pregnant with Pavenic’s child and died during an abortion he performed. Carl thinks she might be Pavenic’s daughter who (not knowing he was her father) tried to seduce him. As they speculate, George appears extremely tense and ill-at-ease. It is clear he doesn’t like these sorts of conversations about Pavenic.
Secrets Begin to Be Revealed
Eventually Pavenic comes downstairs and greets his guests. He informs them that most of the guests will not be arriving because of the revolution. This more intimate gathering means that there will be plenty of opportunities for darker personal revelations. They ask Pavenic about the woman in the photograph, and he happily tells them it is of his housekeeper Ana Puscasu, the woman he “chose to destroy”. Continue reading