Director: Calin Peter Netzer
Writers: Calin Peter Netzer/Razvan Radulescu
Cast: Luminita Gheorghiu, Bogdan Dumitrache, Natasa Raab, Florin Zamifirescu, Ilinca Goia
112mins Drama Romanian with subtitles
Child’s Pose is a portrait of female power and Luminita Gheorghiu’s multi-layered performance as Cornelia, a wealthy, overprotective mother whose unconditional love for her hot-housed, despondent son Barbu (Bogdan Dumistrache) knows no limits.
An age-old theme, then, but one that Netzer tackles here with brilliance and insight: this is not a film about love but about control and manipulation and ultimately about dominance. And Barbu is simply a tool in his mother’s trick box enabling her to endorse her privileged place in local society, ‘Romanian-style’.
Calin Peter Netzer is a filmmaker of undoubtable talent. His previous films of note: Medal of Honour and Maria are certainly worth watching for their fascinating stories of Romania and its customs and character, often seen with black humour. Ably assisted here by the writing talents of Razvan Radulescu (The Death of Mr Lazarescu) Child’s Pose is a weightier and more demanding beast that may not appeal to everyone with its jerky hand-held camera technique and emotional overkill.
Naturally there’s a girlfriend involved (Carmen, played by Ilinca Goia) and naturally she is to blame for Barbu’s distant attitude towards his mother. But when Barbu has a car accident killing a child, Cornelia swings back into favour, springing into action on her mobile phone, dominating the criminal procedure, pulling strings in the local community with the great and the good and shining like a beacon of salvation for her desperate son, as if this was the moment she’d been waiting for all her life and his too.
Once again the theme of Romania’s intricate and unwieldy red tape is called in to question. We’ve seen this all before in Medal of Honour, Aurora and The Death of Mr Lazarescu. But here the camera tracks the action with intrusive immediacy; transmitting expressions of anguish and a palpable and claustrophobic sense of fear and tragedy: the effect is almost nauseating. Cornelia is a woman to dread. You certainly wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of her. Having riden roughshod over her husband, Luminita Gheorghiu’s Cornelia is a frustrated, scheming demon; all dressed up with nowhere to go but the corridors of corruption (which are filled with Bucharest’s society elite) and nothing left to live for but her sad, emasculated son. MT
CHILD’S POSE WON THE GOLDEN BEAR AT BERLINALE 2013