According to Calin Peter Netzer, his third feature, ‘Child’s Pose’, represents a departure from the Romanian New Wave, portraying a deeply troubled relationship between an overbearing mother and her adult son without being a direct commentary on post Ceausescu Romania. But it doesn’t come across that way.
This is a blistering attack on the country’s nouveau riche who have taken over where the Communist Party left off when it comes to sleaze and operating with a complete disregard for the law. Institutions behave as they did back in the day, begging the question as to how many generations will it take – if ever – before systematic corruption falls away.
New Wave regular, Luminita Gheorghiu, steps up from being an engaging character actress in support roles to taking on the lead and delivers a performance of remarkable depth and subtlety. She plays matriarch, Cornelia, something of a major operator; every bit a formidable opponent by anybody’s reckoning.
When her only son, Barbu, kills a child through reckless driving, Cornelia is devastated but not for the deceased or his humble family. She springs into action with a psychopathic disregard for the consequences, systematically intimidating the police and calling on friends in high places to rig the evidence and close ranks.
Jacques Lacan would have had a field day unpicking her obsession with Barbu in the name of motherly love; one that spills over to quasi-incest when giving him an unwanted back massage. She uses the language of a spurned lover, furious that he will not respond to countless mobile messages and hates his partner with a passion.
Bogdan Dumitrache is suitably intense as Barbu, unable to rationalise his thoughts beyond despising Cornelia, almost ceasing to exist beyond an all consuming misanthropy.
The film’s best scene has Cornelia coming into contact with a witness looking for hush money in return for changing his statement. Vlad Ivanov, bringing to mind his unforgettable performances in ‘Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days’ and ‘Police, Adjective’, gives him a worldly malice, one that Cornelia instantly recognises but cannot easily counter. Their quiet cat and mouse negotiations are captivating; threats and double meanings always clear and the outcome never certain.
And there is a well judged ending, when, after much talking, silence ultimately speaks louder than words and offers the characters a crumb of hope for the future.
Stylistically, there are departures from some of the characteristics that we have come to associate with the New Wave – primarily, the long take, Eastern European style – but its strong shared sensibility and thematic similarity override all else. It is no less a film for it; simply different from Netzer’s proclamation.
The jury and international critics were at one when ‘Child’s Pose’ debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year and won the Golden Bear and the FIPRESCI Prize.buy cialis canada online buying cialis online in canada cialis price chemist warehouse brand cialis 5mg online