Child's Pose (Pozitia Copilului) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner31/10/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Compelling Romanian drama with a strong script and a stand-out central performance from Luminita Gheorghiu, though the film lacks subtlety in the hammering home of its central theme.

What's it all about?
Directed by Calin Peter Netzer, Child's Pose (or Pozitia Copilului, original title fans) stars Luminita Gheorghiu as Cornelia Keneres, a bourgeois, middle-aged busybody nicknamed Controlia by her put-upon husband (Florin Zamfirescu). Cornelia fears she is losing her influence over her surly, lazy grown-up son Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache), so when he's involved in a car accident in which a teenager is killed, Cornelia springs into action and exerts her considerable influence in order to keep him out of jail and make sure that he isn't charged with manslaughter.

However, Cornelia's meddling throws her already frosty relationship with her bullying, emotionally distant son into confusion, since he both needs her help and resents her constant interfering. Meanwhile, Cornelia becomes a one-woman force of corruption, paying off the police, tampering with witnesses and even making tearful pleas to the victim's family.

The Good
Luminita Gheorghiu (who played the mother in Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) delivers a riveting performance as Cornelia that manages to be simultaneously monstrous and sympathetic. What makes it especially compelling is that you're never quite sure how much of her own story she believes herself – her tearful defence of her son to the victim's family bears no resemblance to the largely unlikeable man we've seen throughout the film, so you constantly wonder whether she's putting on a performance or whether she's deep in denial and self-delusion.

The film is expertly shot by cinematographer Andrei Butica, who uses constantly moving handheld cameras throughout and ensures that Cornelia is the focus of every scene, as befits her control freakery; the final scene, in particular is brilliantly shot and staged. Netzer also orchestrates a number of gripping scenes, such as Cornelia's eventual heart-to-heart with Barbu's live-in girlfriend (Ilinca Goia) or her meeting with a witness who's worked out exactly what his statement is worth to her.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that the script is frequently too heavy-handed in hammering home its central themes, that of the widespread corruption in Romanian society (practically everyone in the film is open to bribery) and the general lack of morality amongst those with money. This heavy-handedness frequently threatens to overbalance the plot, although the superbly written climax rescues that particular element of the film.

Worth seeing?
Child’s Pose is an emotionally engaging and occasionally chilling Romanian drama with a strong script and a terrific central performance from Luminita Gheorghiu. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 22/09/2018 12:29

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