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DVD: Child's Pose | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Child's Pose

DVD: Child's Pose

Immoral mother-love and a fatal car crash fuel this precisely truthful Romanian satire

Mother knows best: Cornelia (Luminita Gheorghiu) plots her next move

Romania’s cinema renaissance continues with this Golden Bear-winning study of smothering mother-love and social division. Director Calin Peter Netzer sneaks in outrageous black comedy and unsettling emotion, as architect Cornelia (Luminita Gheorghiu) has her 60th birthday spoiled when her son Barbu kills a working-class child while speeding through a village.

As with Italy’s post-war cinema, Romania’s current films combine humanity and social purpose. Cornelia and her doctor sister-in-law know money and status can fix almost anything. They enter a police station puffed up with protective fur coats, insulated from the scorn of the dead boy’s uncle. Cornelia, an aristocrat among peasants, grabs a witness statement to edit. Her maid’s earlier miserable receipt of Cornelia’s studied largesse – old shoes that don’t fit – was perfect. Everyone in this film knows how things stand.

In one astonishing scene, Cornelia lists her son’s idealised qualities to the father of the child he’s killed

Cornelia’s tragicomic dominance of her son is seamlessly interwoven with this wider theme. “He said our generation should just disappear,” she complains, after a pre-crash row. “I told you to have two children,” her sister-in-law coolly reasons. “Then you’d be able to choose.”

Cornelia is callous, desperate, smothering and sympathetic, destructive in her lack of self-awareness, and indomitably cunning. Gheorghiu finds all this in a recognisable, even unexceptional woman, whose privilege and fading glamour are minor comforts. As she massages Barbu’s back after the accident, it’s clear all her desires rest in him. Barbu perfectly compliments her: weak, petulant, bullying and more desperate still. Unlovable as her golden boy is, when the camera crowds in on him alongside his mother and aunt, the suffocation would make anyone scream.

In one astonishing scene, Cornelia lists her son’s idealised qualities to the father of the child he’s killed, as if it’s Barbu who is dead. She's trying to bridge chasms of injustice with delusional mother-love. Nothing better is on offer in this precisely truthful satire.

As Cornelia massages her son's back after the accident, it’s clear all her desires rest in him


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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