Child’s Pose ****1/2 (out of five)
The trouble with reviewing a film as good as Child’s Pose is to revel in superlatives and over-hype the poor thing. Know straight off then, that Calin Peter Netzer’s third feature is astonishingly written (with Razvan Radulescu), shot and performed. It’s sensational.
Luminita Gheorghiu, in the performance of the year thus far, plays Corelia, a wealthy and well-connected Bucharest society architect who finds renewed purpose when her too-adored son is involved in an accident and she throws herself into cleaning up the dreadful mess.
Netzer’s story continually telescopes, at first powerfully revealing the endless everyday corruption inherent in Romanian (and, by implication, most) society, then focusing its gaze to issues of class, family, and ultimately the painfully intimate bond between mother and son. This latter theme is dealt with on a level of universal honesty and unforced pathos such that I have never seen before; the scenes between Gheorghiu and Bogdan Dumitrache are intensely true: writing, direction and performance all borne of perfect observation turned into perfect dramatic art.
Netzer uses hand-held camera, no music score and a very abbreviated time period (the film takes place over about four or five days) and achieves an almost documentary feel, which would have been impossible were his entire ensemble not so brilliant. This is naturalistic acting at its finest and filmmaking at its least bombastic.
Child’s Pose is, essentially, a thriller, but, like the recent films of Asghar Farhadi – A Separation and The Past – it offers a depth of meaningful, emotional engagement far beyond your average thriller, and, indeed, far beyond your average “straight drama”. Its thrills are thrilling, but its drama is intense, moving, and extremely rewarding.