Romanian director Cristi Puiu’s latest adapts a philosophical novel by Russian mystic Vladimir Solovyov about six guests who gather in a grand country estate and discuss death, war, progress and morality.

The guests who come to the mansion of aristocratic landowner and man of the world Nikolai over the Christmas holidays are hand-picked. Among them is a politician, a young countess and a general with his wife. They converse and dine – what a wonderful, much-missed way of life – indulge in parlour games and discuss the right form of authority in the face of political impotence as well as progress and morality, death and the Antichrist. As time passes, the debate becomes more heated, cultural differences become increasingly apparent and the mood grows tense.