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Well constructed script, an inside view in contemporary Romania, and a vivisection of family relationships as aftermath of a car accident,
JvH4825 February 2013
I saw this film at the Berlinale 2013, as part of the official Competition. It won the Golder Bear, by the way, awarded as "Best film" by the International Jury. The average IMDb score of 8.7 from 145 users confirms this. The user reviews, however, are very extreme in both directions: 1 very positive, and 2 very negative. Mine is positive too, independently since my notes were written directly after the screening.

What struck me from beginning to end was that all facts and backgrounds of the respective characters were presented at the right moment, something that helps greatly in understanding how the narrative flows. Many other films leave us too much to outguess, even some from experienced directors and script writers who ought to know better.

The mother figure is set out from the start as someone who always gets what she wants, either by pulling strings via someone she knows socially or professionally, or by bribing people when the need arises. The openings scenes show her birthday party, where we see many important people, setting out very clearly the social circles she normally frequents. In the police station we see her using her "network" by contacting higher echelons to smooth the process. And she promises a favor to one of the policemen whose house is threatened to be torn down, since it is deemed too close to the beach as a result of changed housing rules, and as an expert (being an architect) she knows how to bend the rules in such cases.

Of course, the best example of how she tries to adapt an unwelcome truth in her favor, is when she attempts to bribe the chief witness. An interesting negotiation process follows, making very clear to us that she is used to obtain the desired outcome much faster than is happening in this case. Contrary to popular belief, money is not always sufficient. Her obvious contempt for people not belonging to her "class", proves to be a stumbling block here. Will she ever learn that one can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?? One of her obvious faults is exposed here.

But there is more along this line. A still more important shortcoming is her insensitivity for internal relationships within her family, firstly with her son who is a crucial factor in this story but not at all happy with her efforts to keep him out of jail, and secondly with her husband who admits to have been the lenient partner until now but is not prepared to go on like this. It takes her plenty of time to start grasping what is happening here, proverbially as if her world is crumbling down under her hands. It is obvious that she means well, but trying to bend things her way seems a mere automatism, without even bothering to ask if someone wants her meddling.

A mere side effect of seeing this film is that I forgot everything I've ever read about Eastern European countries, like inefficient police force, lazy bureaucrats, retarded technology, etcetera. This film shows that all of this is not true. The police acts very competently, at least in the scenes we see in this film, and we have no clue that this is not standard operating procedure. Same applies to the doctor who was needed for the alcohol test, and the forensic expert who assesses the damage of the car in order to draw conclusions about the accident. Moreover, technology (gadgets) wise it looks not different from what we have here in Western Europe. In other words, sightseeing (more or less) this former communist country was an extra surprise for me.

Though reluctantly, a considerable part of the family travels to the house of the killed child to meet the parents. Their prime purpose was to offer that they pay for the funeral, but effectively turning out very different from the short, obligatory and cold visit they originally had in mind. Judge for yourself when seeing this important scene whether there is eventually a spark of human contact between the two families.

All in all, I have only positive things to say about this film. I cannot agree with any of the two negative user reviews on IMDb posted before. What else can I add, other than applauding the decision of the Berlinale jury and the high average score of 8.7 given by 145 IMDb users.
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scathing critique of social corruption and selfishness
Radu_A15 February 2013
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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No Child Play
saschakrieger4 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
What would you do if your only son caused an accident in which a 14- year-old-boy died? For Cornelia, a successful Bucharest architect, the answer is clear: she'll fight and she's willing to do everything it takes to keep her son out of prison. At this year's Berlin Film Festival, Child's Pose was the consensus winner of the Golden Bear, the festival's award for the best film. In it, director Calin Peter Netzer portrays an overbearing mother and a member of Romania's upper classes, for whom she and her sense of family come first and then there is nothing for a very long time.At the same time, Child's Pose provides a chilling glimpse into a society in which everything can be managed if you know the right people and have sufficient amounts of money. With its in-your-face documentary-like style dominated by the hand-held camera which is always close but also still and distant enough to allow the viewer long looks into those faces, particularly that of Luminita Gheorghiu's Cornelia. Everything that needs be known is in this face: the hardness, the lack of compassion of a society in which the stronger always wins, the longing for a closeness this world and the laws governing it no longer allow, the scars it leaves.

Cornelia is a control freak. In the beginning we see her interrogating her janitor Clara who also cleans her son's apartment. Matter-of-factly but with an almost diabolical determination that borders on the obsessive. When, for minutes on end we see her ploughing through her son's apartment, her loneliness, her isolation and her compensation through the stifling grip she keeps on her son become almost unbearable. This is also true later when she is left alone, motionless and helpless, in her spotless kitchen, a glass of Grand Marnier being her only companion. But then immediately she becomes the efficient, unscrupulous organizer who calmly persuades her son to change his testimony, coerces a witness into co-operating, uses her connections to smooth things regardless of the victims. When, at the very end, tears roll as she tries to convince the boy's family to drop charges, the question how much of this is real and if it is, who is she crying for, has become unsolvable.

But Cornelia is no monster: the scariest part of the film is how perfectly she fits into this world, how acceptable all that she does is: to her husband, her friends, even the police. If her son rebels, it is against her overbearing nature, not her questionable tactics. This son, too, is a scarred individual, a selfish loner who needs to be if not at the center of attention than at least at the center of his world. Bogdan Dumitrache plays this Barbu as a childish, weak, hostile, cowardly man who is way too similar to his mother for his own good, product and symbol of a society in which money can buy you anything. Child's Pose shows how a corrupt world that has lost its balance and its center deform those who live in it, particularly, those who think they rule it, those who built t in the first place. But there is hope: in the quiet dignity of the boy's parents and maybe even in that quietly improvised gesture Barbu musters up in the end and which we watch from a distance, from inside a car. A small hint of an ultimate emancipation, a tiny act of growing up, almost imperceptible, but even more earth- shattering for it.

Child's Pose is a relentlessly honest film that keeps us watching when we want to turn our eyes away, that provides an unfiltered, direct, in- your-face perspective on a world so shiny on the surface and so hollow beneath. And it is a chilling portrait of people struggling and failing to avoid loneliness, longing for each other, but drifting apart the more they're clinging to the other. Calin Peter Netzer's naturalistic style is far from heavy, it never imposes itself on the film, it forces us to keep looking, to stay close to this woman fighting like a lioness for her child while overstepping all lines of what we might call morality, asking us what we would do, where our limits are and how much we'd weigh morals when all we care about is at stake. This Cornelia is so far and so near at the same time. A chilling, moving film not at all easy to forget.
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Something is rotten in Romania
Red-12519 June 2014
The Romanian film Pozitia copilului was shown in the U.S. with the title Child's Pose (2013). The movie was co-written and directed by Calin Peter Netzer.

Luminita Gheorghiu stars as Cornelia Keneres, a wealthy woman who dominates everyone with whom she comes into contact. Bogdan Dumitrache plays Barbu, her adult son, who clearly grew up under his mother's thumb, and has barely managed to achieve some measure of independence. However, Barbu has been involved in a fatal car accident in which he has killed a child. He's paralyzed with fear and regret, and that allows his mother to step back into his life to try to keep her son out of jail. (Barbu wasn't drunk when the accident occurred, but he was speeding and probably driving recklessly. We all know he's guilty.)

It's hard to have much sympathy for Barbu, who is sullen, uncommunicative, and somewhat strange. His intimate partner, Carmen, is about to leave him, because she can't tolerate his behavior any longer. (Carmen is played very well by the capable actor Ilinca Goia. She and Cornelia have an interesting--and intimate--conversation about Barbu. It's an extremely intense and unsettling scene.)

Of course, you could argue that Barbu is what he is because of his mother. It's a reasonable argument, although we can't be certain. In any event, Barbu, if left to his own devices, will go to jail. His mother defends against this possibility with all the ferocity of a mother tiger defending her cub.

The director makes it clear that in Romania--as in most places--money talks. Cornelia sets about to bribe the witness, bribe and bully the police, and manipulate the dead child's grieving parents. In fact, the only honest and untouchable person we meet is a young policewoman, and no one pays any attention to her.

This is a dark film about a dark situation. What makes it worth seeing is the outstanding performance by Luminita Gheorghiu as Cornelia. Gheorghiu was the star of the excellent film The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. In that movie she portrayed a working-class nurse, trying to save her patient and always facing closed doors. In this movie she is an elegant, sophisticated, architect, trampling over everyone to protect her son.

The parts are very, very different, but Gheorghiu has the talent to make us believe in her character in both roles. She is truly an incredible actor, and the film is worth seeing just to watch her on screen.

We saw this movie at the excellent Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY. It's primarily an intimate film, and will work very well on the small screen. In whatever format, it's worth finding and watching.
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the destructive power of love
dromasca23 May 2013
With Pozitia Copilului (Child's Pose) the Romanian cinema seems to complete a cycle that started almost a decade ago with Moartea Domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu). The path was marked by a number of prizes at important cinema festivals around the world, with the first candidacy of a Romanian film for an Academy Award, but more important by the recognition by viewers that Romania is one of the locations where some of the most interesting movies come from, and that a specific style, a consistent set of themes, and a typology of characters combine to make the Romanian cinema distinct from other film schools. It did help that many of the actors in these films are constant collaborators of the leading directors of the 'wave', some of them becoming familiar faces to world cinema spectators. Luminita Gheorghiu and Bogdan Dumitrache - the lead actors here - acted also in Moartea Domnului Lazarescu, while Vlad Ivanov was the evil figure in 4,3,2.

As many of the good Romanian films in this period Calin Peter Netzer's movie can be seen and interpreted at multiple layers. One of them is composed of the social realities of Romania more than two decades after the fall of the communism. Class disparities are more obvious than in other places and contrast with the forced (and false) egalitarianism that dominated the Romanian society for most of the second half of the 20th century. The introductory scenes build for the viewer the context of the relations of the mid-upper class where the main heroes belong, with bourgeois occupations and family crisis, stylish social events and opera master classes. The obsessive relationship between the dominant mother and the spoiled son who seems to behave like an ingrate brute defines the second layer, the one of the personal relations between the characters. When the road accident that turns the world of the heroes upside down happens, the heroes will be obliged to make contact with the other Romania, the one of the pauper country people, with course manners but maybe with more character and moral strength. The system of relations and corruption is immediately put in motion by the mother, trying to protect her son and make him avoid the consequences of his behavior - a social comment about today's Romania which does not go lost neither for the Romanian nor for the foreign viewer. While this part is more clearly cut, there is no moral judgment made on the rest of the relations, and this is a smart choice made by the director.

The rest is left to the actors and they are simply said wonderful. Luminita Gheorghiu as the possessive mother and Bogdan Dumitrache as the traumatized son who makes all the wrong moves at the wrong moments in order to cut-off the invisible umbilical cord play one of the most meaningful and highly charged mother-son relationships that I have seen lately. Most of the actors in the supporting cast give sincere and expressive performances, which I would rather describe not as acting but as living their roles. A few memorable scenes (the master class at the beginning and the final scene of the confrontation with the family of the kid killed in the accident) may live in the memory of the viewers even longer than the rest of the film. Dealing with a subject that could have easily turned into melodrama or soap opera Pozitia Copilului succeeds to make a sharp social comment that works well with the more universal story of a suffocating love which is touched by miscommunication and tragedy.
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Mother, would you unlock me?
catalinignat29 March 2013
Do you know these films where everything - acting, shooting, story telling, directing - works together to emerge into a clear message? This is such a film.

Reading bad reviews upfront, was afraid about getting bored from being too long, or dizzy from excessive use of hand held camera. Happy to report none of them apply. Instead, last frame was finding me quite surprised about how fast it was finished.

This film reminds me very much of "A separation" of Farhadi. They touched me in the same way, although the stories were different. That is because both stories are just recipients for emotions.

And in the end, this movie is full of emotions, human, universal, atemporal emotions. And that is what makes this film great.
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what parents can't accomplish they achieve through their children
lee_eisenberg13 November 2015
The Romanian New Wave continues with Călin Peter Netzer's "Poziția copilului" ("Child's Pose" in English). Luminița Gheorghiu plays an affluent woman whose son accidentally kills a boy in a traffic accident. The movie looks at a number of topics: corruption, emotional manipulation and parent-child relationships. All of these add up to a general focus on the state of affairs in Romania, as the woman seeks to pull strings to get her son a lenient prosecution, and tries to force the victim's family to forgive her son.

One of the most effective lines is "What parents can't accomplish they achieve through their children." One of the most obvious examples is shows like "American Idol". But beyond that, we see the woman chide her son for his unwillingness to grow up, even though she kept an overly tight leash on him most of his life.

All in all I recommend the movie. Shot in a naturalistic style, it hits you hard. I hope that Romania turns out more of these.
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People at its Heart
tributarystu30 March 2013
I happened to catch a screening of the film attended by the director and some of the actors, followed by a short Q&A. This sort of effort is part of a greater plan to bring appraised Romanian films closer to the Romanian audience, while also creating an association with the people responsible for their success, more often than not "against the odds".

What sets Netzer's film apart from some of the other recent Romanian works of cinema is its sardonic humor which works best when it's aimed at the characters and not at some of the pervasive practices of society. I've personally always felt that personal stories, meaning character stories, always came in second to some grand piece of social commentary, usually on the communist background of the country, in most of the acclaimed Romanian cinema of the 21st century. Not to say that such commentary lacks relevance, but there's just more to modern life than its dark red heritage.

Of course, "Pozitia Copilului" is deeply rooted in antics which one could call symptomatic of Romania and as a means of characterization, the backdrop is justifiable. Occasionally though, when certain aspects come across a bit too hard pressed, they do a disservice to the otherwise excellent balance of a difficult story. This does in no way undermine the beautifully detailed portrait of the film's main character, a highly controlling, bossy, arrogant, mean-spirited mother whose faults go quite a way to being redeemed by the passionate dedication with which she tries to protect her son, who had killed a child in a car accident. The ambivalence is so finely portrayed by Luminita Gheorghiu that both the moments of involuntary humor and the moments of pure drama work just as well.

It's ironic that Mrs. Gheorghiu also played in "Moartea Domnului Lazarescu", a film I found to be close at heart with "Pozitia Copilului", in that it relies heavily on a complex central character and its critique is subtle, yet scathing. I'd go so far as to say that these kind of films, while still dominated by a type of post-modernist bleakness, can lead a shift of focus to the greater importance of characters as individuals in Romanian movies, not only as symbol stand-ins.
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The dark side of mommy
Dubh1 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I rather enjoyed this movie, which explores in a realistic way the effects of a possessive and manipulative mother on her son. The unhealthy relationship is the cornerstone on which many (bad) things are built: corruption, lies and so on. Even if it has strong social themes, the movie focuses on the dark side of familiar relationships, when they combine with greed and the desire to "live" through one's own children. These are classical themes, but they are told in a very interesting way, with a nervous movement of the camera that seems to point to the uneasiness of the situation. In my opinion, only two scenes (Cornelia in Barbu's house, the opera scene) are a bit too long: the rest has good rhythm and the end is almost perfect. One brief mention for the Italian translation of the title: "Il caso Kerenes" (The Kerenes case) is really bad. "Child's pose", besides being faithful to the original Romanian title, describes the movie much better.
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The difficulties of letting go
Buddy-5123 July 2014
A haunting slide-of-life drama from Romania, "Child's Pose" explores the strained relationship between a middle-aged mother and her adult son, set within the context of an unspeakable human tragedy.

Cornelia Keneres, portrayed with masterful understatement and restraint by Luminita Gheorghiu, is a haughty, emotionally aloof woman who, nevertheless, just can't seem to cut the cords that bind her to her only child, Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache). Barbu, of course, resents his mother's endless interference in his life, an interference that is only intensified when he tragically runs over and kills a 14-year-old boy who's crossing a freeway on which Barbu is driving recklessly. Because Barbu seems devoid of initiative in trying to make things right with both the legal system and the family of the victim, Cornelia launches into full Mama Bear mode, lavishing large sums of money in her wake as she attempts to clean up the life-shattering mess her son has made for himself and others. Is Cornelia now paying the consequences for treating her son as a child for so long? Is that why he now finds himself unable to step up to the plate and accept responsibility for his actions as a mature adult should?

Filmed in a wholly realistic and naturalistic style, "Child's Pose" is about as far from melodrama as a movie about life-and-death issues could possibly be. There are no grand speeches, no emotional outbursts springing from the tragic events of the story. The movie makes us feel as if we are eavesdropping on these people as they go about the business of trying to make sense of an entirely senseless situation. As such, we get to witness first-hand the agony and grief, the bitterness and guilt, and the thirst for redemption that the various characters are going through.

As embodied by the extraordinary Gheorghiu, Cornelia becomes a fascinatingly complex character made up of any number of inconsistencies and contradictions. For instance, she's constantly deriding Barbu for not being a man, for making a mess of his life and not fulfilling the hopes she and his father had for him when he was younger. Yet, it is her very insistence on meddling, mothering him and stepping in to solve all his problems that is the key factor in making him this way. And is she truly moved by the concerns of the grieving parties or is she motivated more by the fate of her own son and the guilt she might be feeling for the way she raised him?

Flawlessly written and directed by Cailin Peter Netzer (with Razvan Radulescu as co-writer), the movie ends on a powerful note, one that hints at the barest possibility for reconciliation and redemption for the individuals involved. It's a largely wordless moment, heartbreakingly silent and obliquely shot, and it is a moment that will linger long in the memory of anyone who sees it.
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Sons and Mothers
evanston_dad23 March 2015
Romania has become one of my favorite go-to countries for international cinema. Its movies certainly aren't laugh riots, but they're fascinating in their compelling grimness.

"Child's Pose" isn't anywhere nearly as depressing as other Romanian films I've seen ("The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" comes to mind), but it's still a very mournful and sad story about a spoiled brat rich "kid" (his age is never stated that I remember, but he's easily in his late 20s at least) who kills a child in an auto accident and then sits back while his overbearing mother tries to use his family's affluence to buy their way out of the consequences. The dynamic between the mother and son is fascinating, and Luminita Gheorghu as the mother gives one of the best female performances of the past year. She creates a wholly believable character that feels like the kind of person you might actually come across in actuality; she's not exactly a bad person, but at the same time she's a bit of a monster in her single-minded determination to make her and her family's lives as easy as possible without being able to maintain any perspective on what the world is like for others who are not as fortunate.

The climactic scene in which she visits the parents of the dead child and then prattles on about herself and her own son, hijacking the parents' grief for her own and making the situation all about her, is a quietly masterful feat of acting and writing. It felt SO authentic and so like people and situations I've dealt with directly myself. I wish the film had ended with that instead of giving us a forced redemptive ending that felt a tad false, but it packs a wallop nonetheless.

Grade: A
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Loved it!
agnesdac1 November 2013
The movie is about action and reaction in life, responsibility and why parents shouldn't try to stifle and spoil their children. More importantly, it is about control and how love understood wrongly as transfer of responsibility and even consciousness leaves the son in the story weak and defenseless, incapable to face maturely the consequences of his actions. on the other hand, He can't do that because he's been taught not to take any responsibility for anything. This does not mean however the mother is the only guilty person. Her love for her son has translated into complete takeover of his individual responsibility. He realizes he must fight her and get back control over his life too late. Love is no excuse for that. The movie is dynamic and to the point. The characters are well defined.
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Vincentiu9 August 2013
a film about solitude. and truth moment. about love and error and need to escape from yourself. touching. profound. strange for the manner to present ordinary events in a direct and cold fact, a perfect puzzle. Luminița Gheorghiu does a splendid role who reflects image of many Romanian mothers. remarkable performance of Vlad Ivanov and Adrian Titieni impresses. basis the script, not a surprise from Răzvan Rădulescu. it is a cruel film for the science to reflect reality in large , clear slices. and for final taste. a film about duty. in its complete form. as shadow of fears and expectations and deep gestures who breaks the words. almost an experience. or only a ladder circle. must see it ! not for cast. not for prizes. not for quality of another Romanian/Eastern movie. but for its role of seed. seed of few impressions.
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it ends exactly how the rich and powerful wants
numedeuser20 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
More than 90% of the rich and powerful in Romania, who kills(by accident or not) a poor one, escape with little or no punishment from the state legislators.

I would have liked, that the people who made this film had the balls to end it otherwise than how the rich wants.

In the same pervert way, the doctor(who falsified the blood test making it without alcohol) and the chief policeman(who permitted and even suggested the rich to break the law) gained some kind of profit from the rich and powerful, the makers of this film had compromised and end it exactly how the rich wants(after all, it is they who pay for the making of the movie).

I liked most of the movie(which is pretty much in conformance with the reality in Romania), even though at the same time i felt so much disgust seeing these fake people(the rich ones) acting without honesty, dignity, empathy....

This movie is not a winner. It is a looser, unfortunately, because of the end of it.
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most intense scene
cervus3522 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The most intense scene comes at the end when the mother meets with the parents of the dead boy. When the mother of the driver (Cornelia) tries to persuade the mother of the dead boy that her own son is a nice kid, that he did certain good things in childhood etc, one has to ask, How cruelly insensitive can one person be toward another? The scene is more honest than typical reconciliation scenes in sentimental movies in which "two people come together over their shared grief" in a clichéd way. Since we know that the mother (Cornelia) has done everything to exculpate her guilty and irresponsible son -- including bribery of police, damaging sworn evidence, bribery of witnesses, and pressure on politicians -- we can not sympathize with her.

At least that's the way I understood this scene, the climax of the movie. The sadness Cornelia feels because she is estranged from her rotten son can not excuse her criminal actions. The rotten son's brief handshake with the grieving father is very minor compared with the cruel and illegal actions of the mother. This is a realistic and honest film, even if it's not shot or sound-recorded with great beauty.
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It's a very realistic portrayal of a flawed upper class family life. Despite a slow pace and very somber feel, 'Child's Pose' is a good film.
bryank-0484417 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Calin Peter Netzer's very somber film 'Child's Pose' is a dark character study of the relationship between a mother/wife and her family. I'm sure we all know someone in our family who tries to control every little detail in everyone's lives, and will go to the end of the world to find out the smallest details on their loved ones. At times, this can come across as comical, but most of the time it comes across as an annoyance, which can scar any relationship, even though the 'patriarch' of the family has good intentions.

This Romanian film sure made a buzz recently at certain film festivals around the world, even scoring some awards. Hell, it was even selected for to compete in the Oscar race, but was ultimately not nominated for the Foreign category. Needless to say, 'Child's Pose' is receiving some high critical acclaim, which currently holds a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But, this film is not a feel-good two hours. There doesn't seem to be one good and decent person amongst our cast of characters throughout most of the run-time. Sure there is a hint of these characters being redeemed, but it is very subtle and too short, given the circumstances of the events that occur.

We see the film through the eyes of Cornelia Keneres (Luminita Gheorghiu, excellent), a 60-year old family woman, who is seen smoking a cigarette with her sister, talking about a man who doesn't love her, verbally abuses her, and even has pushed her out of a car. We soon find out that this is not an ex-lover, but her only son, Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache). Cornelia lives a life of luxury with her husband, who "is like putty" in her hands at all times. Even to a fault. Barbu seems successful and lives with his girlfriend Carmen and he daughter from a previous relationship, which Cornelia turns her nose up at. Cornelia and her son's relationship is not a good one to say the least, as Cornelia is still trying to dictate and control his life, even though he is in his mid-thirties. She even goes as far as to ask her maid to spy on her son and give her information. Enjoying the high-society perks, Cornelia is abruptly told that her son has been in an automobile accident where he killed a young teenage boy crossing the highway.

Corneila and her sister switch gears and head to the police station where Barbu is being questioned. We see Cornelia quickly verbally attack the police for questioning her son without a lawyer and even tell hims what to write in his statement as not to incriminate himself, even though he was driving too fast. Instead of justice and truth, Cornelia will pay off any witnesses and even police to prevent her son from doing prison time. Meanwhile the family of the deceased kid lives in the poor part of town, doesn't have any powerful influences, and are pretty angry at the whole accident. As the story progresses, we see Cornelia push her family away even more, especially her son, as she tries to steer this accident from involving any wrong doing of Barbu.

We quickly see that she is not the only one looking to bribe people as the witness wants to extort her for $100k, and even the police want to use her to keep things quiet. All of this is to prove in her own way that she loves her son, which is not accepted or returned. This leads up to a very emotional climax where Cornelia and Barbu are supposed to meet with the family of the deceased. Netzer is trying to tell us a story about redemption, forgiveness, and family. Be it warts and all. But there are times where things get a bit awkward. For instance when Cornelia in her nighties massages with lotion her son's back. The camera angles and pacing here really seemed like it was going into a sexual territory that I didn't want it to go into. Luckily it didn't, but there was some definite tension there.

Luminita and Bogdan are excellent in their roles, specifically Luminita. Even though she is mostly the antagonist in this movie, we still feel for her. Her struggle to let go of her son and take his verbal abuse is shown in her body language and eyes perfectly. It's a very realistic portrayal of a flawed upper class family life. Despite a slow pace and very somber feel, 'Child's Pose' is a good film.
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story from East
Kirpianuscus28 May 2017
it is new demonstration about values and rules and game of influence from the East. a dark portrait of Romania, more complex than it seems be at the first sigh, impressive, powerful and touching. a mother protecting her son. without any price. an accident. and a poor family. and examples of admirable acting. from Romanian realities, nothing surprising. the family remains a fortress. many mothers , in the situation of Cornelia , are adepts of the same solutions. and this is the motif for discover this film. for the splendid job of Luminița Gheorghiu. for Bogdan Dumitrache as Barbu. for the levels of a crisis. and for the clash between two social circles. the basic virtue of the film - it has one of the most inspired ends.
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paths to nowhere ...
atanas_n1-117 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I am really really surprised by the good ratings this one is receiving - I was in the cinema for this and for other Berlinale films and this one got only courtesy applause (and compared to Krugovi practically no applause). Never mind it won the golden bear - i stick with the audience on this.

The hand-held camera is awful, making you seasick very quickly, the film doesn't manage to create any mood and does not even know what it is about.

It could be about many topics - the social problems in Romania, corruption in Romania, overprotective Balkan mothers (I know a lot) and what they do to their children or maybe the struggle of such a child against its mother, the lack of responsibility in the society, even about the conditions of the roads in Romania.

Well, the film chooses none of it. It goes on and on, without getting a point, without getting a direction, without even understanding the situation in my opinion.

This one became perfectly clear to me once I saw a short interview with the director, who was talking something about Oedipus complex - the one thing which was not even partially in the movie. Yeah, by the way - he did talk about this in Romanian - i guess 15 years in Germany didn't make him learn the language.

So if you like a lot of minute longs sequences leading to nowhere, films which make no point and have no direction, can't even decide whether a driver killing a child did something bad (yeah, he feels a bit bad, but well, he is sorry, see, so it's OK to drive with 140 on Romanian roads, poor poor guy) - this is all you need.

I for my part would warn anyone - do not waste your time - there is nothing here.
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A masterpiece of boring European cinema!
schelve16 February 2013
I saw the film on the International Filmfestival in Berlin this week, world premiere. I just translate my notes I made after watching the film. The issues of the movie could be interesting, but the realization is not well. A mother who takes control over the life of her adult son. A son who wants to defy the control of his mother. Common corruption in Romania. But none of this, really nothing, is elaborated well. No emotional involvement possible. Too long sequences unnecessary to tell the story. But acting is alright, especially Luminita Gheorghiu in the end. But that can't compensate the weaknesses of the script and direction. The camera work is hard to bear too. Handhold cameras are a good way to emphasize a personal perspective. But a whole movie filmed like this gives a feeling of seasickness. In some moments it looks simply unprofessional. Unbelievable this film wins the Golden Bear as best film! The jury is nuts. There were really good films on Berlinale-Festival, but not this one. A masterpiece of boring European cinema!
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The usual boring and poor romanian movie.
coccobello091 December 2013
Film poor, slow, monotonous that revolves around a thin and bland plot. In one word: negligible. Romanian cinema is worth and overestimated, it is increasingly leverage on the contrast between social classes and on the struggle for survival but through scripts and rhythms really ridiculous. Mungiu, Netzer .... are technically second-rate filmmakers who tell stories insipid and boring. however deserves a special mention Luminita Gheorghiu engaged in a good actress performance, but obviously is not enough. Putting in a pot, piety, poverty, greed, corruption, indolence, you get romanian cinema served up as neorealism but in fact a disgusting food.
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Expected more from an Oscar nominee!
cristian_mihon7 August 2013
The whole movie contains excessive drama, and unfortunately, for nothing. There is no real action in the movie, except for endless conversations between the characters. The mother is pretty much the main character of the movie, and spends her whole screen-time talking to various other characters.

I don't understand how this movie is even in the run for an Oscar. The story idea that sits behind the movie could have created an amazing movie, packed with smart dialogs and action. However, all the movie offers for it's viewers are endless dialogs. Endless.

A disappointment. Don't watch it. Just my 2 cents.
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Disappointing low budget talking heads movie
brixtonbathtub1 July 2013
For many non-Romanians this film will be quite difficult to follow because the high speech content means subtitling is only briefly on screen and has to be read very rapidly, all the more difficult when it is on a lower off-screen subtitler as at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival just now. Sometimes I had to choose between reading text or viewing the image. Nevertheless, I found the portrayal of the self-obsessed control freak mother trying to get her somewhat pathetic son off the hook rather laboured. When two characters were conversing the hand held camera swinging from one to the other made me feel like a linesman sitting by the net watching the ball at a Wimbledon tennis match. This was either an intended 'artistic' device or they couldn't afford two cameras. If the former, it failed, and if the latter they should have considered old fashioned cutting and editing. I came to this film predisposed to Romanian cinema having seen the remarkable Somewhere in Palilula last year. I wouldn't describe Child's Pose as a boring European film, as one reviewer put it, but simply as a boring film, with the proviso that I may have missed its finer points due to the language barrier. How it won a Golden Bear at Berlin is one of those intrigues whose story may still be waiting to be told... Anyone care to find out and make a film out of it?
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'Child's Pose' is gritty and occasionally heavy-handed but you have to admire its intelligence and single-mindedness.
dipesh-parmar9 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Romanian director Calin Peter Netzer's 'Child's Pose' is a drama about a rich, dysfunctional family in Bucharest, where one incident unravels the very fabric that holds them together.

Cornelia (Luminita Gheorghiu) is the controlling mother who dominates this film, an architect with the right connections thanks to her businessman husband Aurelian (Florin Zamfirescu). She is estranged from her son Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache), and blames Barbu's girlfriend Carmen (Ilinca Goia) for this separation. In fact, she spends most of her time bemoaning everyone in her family, completely blinkered to the fact that she's probably most at fault for creating such a hideous family structure.

Barbu gets into serious trouble which will most certainly change his life, but how much depends on him and his family. He seems set on doing the right thing and pleading his guilt, as we would all hope. But Cornelia railroads her way to the front to play the devoted mother, closely followed by her sister-in-law, Olga (Natasa Raab). We see Cornelia the operator, manipulating the situation and dictating the lives of all concerned. She struts around in her fur coat, telling the police what should be done, namedropping others within her elite circle of Bucharest society, so that she gets what she thinks she's entitled to.

Our distaste for Cornelia grows exponentially, such is her lack of remorse and disregard for all around her as long as "my baby" is not harmed. Everything she does has an ulterior motive, even her maid is wary of any communication she has with her. To witness the presence of Cornelia involves being undermined by her, with hidden meanings and veiled threats, all to illustrate who is in charge. Such is her need for control and maintaining standards, she even dictates the novels that Barbu should be reading. Of course, her sole aim is to get Barbu back for herself, she's not remotely interested in his life and his partner and couldn't care less about his predicament. Barbu knows the more his mother is involved the harder she will make her life. He probably prefers a life in jail just to get away from his scheming mother!

As with other recent Romanian films such as 'Beyond the Hills', '4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days', and 'The Death of Mr. Lazarescu', 'Child's Pose' poses difficult questions in a Romanian society finally free from the Ceaușescu regime. This film is all about class, entitlement, and how one tyrannical system has been replaced by one thats just as bad for the majority. Gheorghiu is superb as the monstrous Cornelia, joining an ever- increasing list of mothers from hell in film. Just like the aforementioned films, 'Child's Pose' is gritty and occasionally heavy-handed but you have to admire its intelligence and single-mindedness.
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Pain and shame
ersbel20 March 2015
Pain and shame is the short answer. Pain for wasting time. Shame for the FIPRESCI and Golden Bear jury. This was supposed to be the story that some people guessed from the poster and the small synopsis. But the story is nowhere to be found. You get a woman (Luminita Gheorghiu) talking to another woman about a third. Than you get two more scenes, this time with lots of extras that should express what? None of the nomenklatura princelings from the credits has any idea. Only than the movie starts. Starts into a bad provincial play. Each character is like a mechanical puppet. Apart from some tears in the end, the lines are delivered flat. And you feel the moment the director makes the magical sign to power on the mechanical puppets. You get the police station. Outdoors. A man is calm. The blond old women deliver their lines with obvious bore. Like Frankenstein awaken the man becomes agitated. He even goes to his car to get a baseball bat. Next scene, same time. Indoors. The same man is docile.

A lot of unused characters. A lot of pointless scenes. Yet NO STORY. Sure, Romanians seem to identify the story with local political circus. But how about the people who can't play their own imagined story when the trigger stimulus kicks in? There is no change. The characters remain flat all the way. The music is bad. The contrast in volume is disturbing. And it all ends with an Italian song??? The camera is awful. Maybe it's a subtle irony: the killer does not drink, but the camera operator does. The frame bounces and swirls around with no clear purpose. To make things worse there are erratic zooms too. Why? It's a mystery.

Contact me with Questions, Comments or Suggestions ryitfork @
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