Review: ‘Child’s Pose’ is yet another sturdy film from the Romanian New Wave

Luminita Gheorghiu plays a mother who will do anything to keep her son from prison in "Child's Pose." Credit: Zeitgeist Films
Luminita Gheorghiu plays a mother who will do anything to keep her son from prison in “Child’s Pose.”
Credit: Zeitgeist Films

‘Child’s Pose’
Director: Calin Peter Netzer
Stars: Luminita Gheorghiu, Bogdan Dumitrache
Rating: NR
3 (out of 5) Globes

Cornelia (Luminita Gheorghiu), the centerpiece of the Romanian New Wave number “Child’s Pose,” probably wouldn’t mind being compared to Joan Crawford. She’s acts more wealthy than she is, and soon acts like a worse mother than she is, too. Like Crawford in “Mildred Pierce” —  the movie, that is, which added a murder plot not in the James M. Cain source — she will do anything to protect her adult son, Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache). Good thing, too, because in the film’s first 15 minutes it’s revealed he’s accidentally run over a boy who was running across a highway. He wasn’t drunk, but he was going 124 mph, in an attempt to pass another speeding car.

Against the wishes of police, the slain child’s working class family and Barbu himself, Cornelia throws herself into the fray. She wants to use her connections to keep her only son out of jail. She’ll even go down questionable routes, including asking the other driver (Vlad Ivanov, the great, reliable scene stealer of modern Romanian cinema) to change his statement.

The first half is very Romanian New Wave, marrying naturalism to a satirical bent that makes it seem ever so slightly arch. Everyone, as in every Romanian film, is prickly, if not rude or even scary. The dead kid’s uncle threatens to smack Barbu with a bat, then goes to his trunk to produce the weapon. But the upper middle class gets it the worst, with Cornelia embodying how money and power can make anything go away.

But at least here, money and power can’t make everything go away, and the second half willingly storms into less assured places. The quiet and weary Barbu, long sick of his overbearing mother, starts to rebel, forcing Cornelia to soften. This leads to a meeting between the parents that bobs and weaves as characters work through their messy feelings, struggling to find a compromise that could never be satisfying to all.

What starts off as broad melodrama becomes, for lack of a better term, more “real.” Then again, Gheorghiu — one of the greats of Romanian film, notably her co-starring work in the terrific “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” — never quite plays Cornielia as a rich monster. She holds back just enough, balancing drive with a vulnerability that makes her character’s evolution believable when it comes. Filmmaker Calin Peter Netzer is a better cowriter than a director; his handheld camerawork can be sloppy, darting everywhere, willy nilly, in an attempt to create immediacy. But the material and the actors are strong enough to withstand a degree of filmmaking incompetence.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Best nature spots for kids in New York…

When it comes to kids and nature, most U.S. parents agree: children should be spending more time outdoors. According to a recent survey by The…

Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.