VOD film review: Child’s Pose
James R | On 20, Dec 2013
Director: Calin Peter Netzer
Cast: Luminita Gheorghiu, Bogdan Dumitrache,Natasa Raab
Watch Child’s Pose online in the UK: Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Apple TV (iTunes) / Google Play
A boy’s best friend is his mother. That’s something Cornelia (Gheorghiu) firmly believes. A well-off matriarch with a fur coat that makes Cruella deVil look vegetarian, she loves her son, Barbu (Dumitrache) even more than her dead animal accessories. So when he manages to kill a child behind the wheel, she swoops into action.
A bribe here, a favour there, the determined woman spares no strings to pull Barbu away from jail – a last-ditched attempt to win back her son’s affection after he has long grown sick of her calculating ways.
“You’re putty in her hands. She can bend you sideways and backwards,” he warns his dad – and he doesn’t dare disagree. You can’t blame him; Luminita Gheorghiu cuts an intimidating figure with her soft collar and hard nose. She stops at nothing in her quest to prove her son’s supposed innocence, forever accompanied by her friend, Olga (Raab); a pair of prosperous Romanian politickers.
Director Calin Peter Netzer follows them with a close eye, Calin’s wobbly camera flitting from Luminita Gheorghiu’s pleading eyes to the disapproving faces of those around her. For any subtlety it lacks in criticising the country’s self-centred bourgeoisie, though, Child’s Pose’s impact is made up for by Luminita’s performance. Shifty, sincere and sad simultaneously, her crocodile tears are backed up by crocodile teeth, ears, hands, nose and everything else – only briefly are we allowed to see the see the perspective of another character, when Barbu’s “unsuitable” partner speaks to Cornelia over a hushed dinner table. Even then you get the feeling that Cornelia wins her over.
By the time she ends up visiting the parents of the dead boy, professing her love for her son and his heartfelt attempts to do well at school, you can’t tell if she’s making it up or being honest for the first time. A complex, challenging character study, Child’s Pose is an interesting look at Romanian society – but an endlessly fascinating tale of devotion and deceit.