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Based on the true story of an impoverished, unemployed mother of seven living under subhuman conditions in a cave-like basement of a block of flats in newly post-communist Romania. When her... See full summary »
Out of enthusiasm, a Militia soldier abandons his platoon and decides to fight for the cause of the Revolution. His Lieutenant and the rest of the crew look for him during the confused night of 22-23 December 1989.
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Seeing a way to reassert control over her adult son's life when he faces manslaughter charges, an affluent Romanian woman sets out on a campaign of emotional and social manipulation to keep him out of prison, navigating the waters of power, corruption and influence. Child's Pose is based on the sense of loss of parents who have to send their children away-physically and psychologically. The parent-child relationship is re-assessed through a son in his 30s that wants to escape from his mother, who in turn wants to keep her adult son by her side. The mother's character is quite familiar, but this film is unique in that the director delicately portrays how the controlling mother wants to deny that her son is destined to leave her by following the characters' emotional flows and gazing at their twisted desires. Luminita Gheorghiu turns in an extraordinary performance in playing a mother struggling to "save" her son. Heading to the conclusion, the film shows that the unhealthy mother-son ... Written by
In Italy the title was re-written with a typo in it ('Il Caso Kerenes' instead of the correct spelling of the family name Keneres) and the film was advertised on posters and published on DVD with this typo there. See more »
What did l do wrong?
Never mind now. l'm putting this on the table. You can say yes or no. You either let me call you when l feel like it, or it's nothing. And a suggestion. lf it's hard, find a substitute. A dog, a lover, a hobby. People your age visit the Pyramids.
Other people my age have a normal relationship with their child. Parents find their fulfillment in their children. Everything they failed to accomplish, they achieve through their children.
So we're agreed.
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scathing critique of social corruption and selfishness
If I'd have to put my money on which film will win the Berlinale this year, I'd say this one, and not because I was born in Romania and share the ethnic group of director Călin Peter Netzer (even though I cannot say for sure that this fact does not influence my judgment).
The story: Cornelia, a middle-aged high society architect, is informed by her sister-in-law that her son Barbu has killed a child in a traffic accident, and both immediately proceed to the police station where he is being held for questioning. They barge into the interrogation, all the while phoning useful contacts, and manage to change Barbu's statement, after which they take him back to his parent's house. In the following days, Cornelia develops various schemes to get Barbu off the hook of a trial, receiving unexpected support from Barbu's wife (or girl-friend) Carmen, even though they thoroughly hate each other.
The accident itself is not the main story. It serves as a backdrop for highlighting the blatant disregard of the rich for the poor, the pervasiveness of corruption in Romanian society, and to illustrate how possessive and self-serving Cornelia is. Most screen time is devoted to Barbu's 'cutting of the post-natal umbilical cord', his sometimes desperate, mostly half-hearted attempts to gain independence from his overprotective mother.
The strength of the film lies in the ambiguity of its characters, foremost Luminiţa Gheorghiu's Cornelia, which she brilliantly portrays as a vicious self-obsessed diva totally immune to the plight of others, and who is still thoroughly devoted to her son. The viewer is torn between disgust and pity for her, for instance, when stopping in front of the killed child's parents, she exclaims 'Damn, it's one of the better houses', indicating that her only interest is to buy the parents' consent to revoke their claim against Barbu. Yet when sitting with them at a table, she so tearfully describes her plight that one cannot help but feel moved. Barbu, on the other hand, is a hypochondriac and coward, who for most of the time cannot admit to what he has done, but when he argues with Cornelia to back off, one cannot help but wonder how he could have turned out any other way, given the obsessive nature of his mother.
The real icing on the cake, however, is a brief scene between Cornelia and the principal witness to the accident, whom she hopes to bribe. Vlad Ivanov (of 'Doctor Bebe' fame in '4 months 3 weeks 2 days') once again plays a cynical ruthless character who confronts the female protagonist with the fact that the situation forces her to do precisely what he wants - well, maybe not quite. This scene is the best of any Romanian film I have seen in the past five years and merits the price of the ticket alone.
What may elude a non-Romanian viewer of this film is that the title itself is also ambiguous, 'poziţia copilului' being a wordplay with 'poziţia corpului', which means 'position of the body', a term used in police reports to describe the location of an accident victim when found. This recalls 'poliţist, adjectiv' by Corneliu Porumboiu, which in 2009 won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize in Cannes. That title is also a wordplay, and Netzer shares many stylistic resemblances with Porumboiu.
If the film isn't perfect, then because of Netzer's tendency for emotional overkill; he rides his protagonist's credibility a little too hard sometimes, as in his debut feature 'Maria' (2003). However, that film is still alive in my memory precisely because the misery of the main character was so all-encompassing, so he may be using exaggeration as an artistic tool. 'Child's Pose' is a little too obviously geared towards festival expectations rather than domestic audiences - Romanians tend to prefer their social criticism with a large dosage of humor, as in all-time favorite 'Filantropica' (2002) by Nae Caranfil. But since the acting is mostly nothing short of brilliant, these calculations do not harm the film's artistic value and social message.
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