Child’s pose — Review

Under the display of the so-called Romanian New Wave, a riveting story explores the underlying tensions between a generation of wealthy elite parents, whose son had just killed a young boy from a simple family in a car accident. Two characters manage to stand out — the mother and son duo, who share a powerful and at the same time resentful dynamic, in their desperation to escape the consequences that they are about to face.

Luminita Gheorghiu offers a wonderful representation as Cornelia, a controlling 60-year-old Machiavellian mother, who wears fur coats, smokes slim cigarettes, loves Italian music and is ready to bribe or charm in order to erase her son’s mistake. The character strongly mirrors the archetype mother that suffocates her son even long after he has grown up, raising up a spoiled child who doesn’t have to take responsibility for his actions. Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache) is of course the son who is looking to escape from his mother’s clenching maneuvers and tries to blame everyone around him for his personal inabilities. Carmen, the current girlfriend of Barbu is perhaps the only character with integrity, but not brave enough to dismiss Cornelia when she shuts her off. Mister Fagarasanu (Florin Zamfirescu) is rather absent, and intervenes only as a echo of his wife, or a defenseless victim in the midst of a turmoil.

The screenplay is a vigorous interplay between characters, most of them happening in a naturalistic way. Close ups and hand-held camerawork shots follow closely the manner in which the action and the tension between the characters is evolving. When the dialogue is too much, you are already looking into Cornelia’s piercing gaze, but given time to contemplate, as she sits alone and smokes her slim cigarette. These are the short moments when you pity her, but you also admire her fierce character.

The title is perfect, giving little space for interpretation until its final reveal moment at the end of the film. Calin Peter Netzer perfectly pulls together the strings of these dysfunctional relationships, and unravels them with an abrupt and cruel end that puts a stop somehow to everyone’s suffering. The audience is left with an open ending, given the right to decide on who is the guilty one and who should be punished. The director somehow chooses not to show the most important scenes that led up to the current situation, picking the trail of the subplot, slowly built, but with the right amount of information.

What should the audience get from this, in the end: maybe that everyone is at fault, yet no-one is guilty.