Thankful for World Cinema: Child’s Pose (2013)


For an introduction to the concept of Thankful for World Cinema please go here.

Child’s Pose (2013)

As Thankful for World Cinema comes to a close I must say it had a bit of a different focus than I initially anticipated it to have. I say that as a very good thing indeed. I had a bunch of posts lined up that have not yet debuted on this site though they had previously appeared on The Site That Must Not Be Named. They have now shuffled off to further down the line and maybe they will appear next year. The reason for this is that I was able to track down and view not only many contemporary foreign films I wanted to see, but many that are Oscar contenders for their respective nations.

Aside from that honor for Romania Child’s Pose also boasts the Golden Bear from the 2013 Berlinale making it a top-prize winner from one of the small handful of the most influential film festivals in the world. When pairing that with some reviews I’d seen that makes it perhaps one of the more anticipated viewings I had in this block.

Child’s Pose takes a few minutes at the start to introduce Cornelia (Luminita Gheorghiu) talking to her sister (Natasa Raab) , lamenting the way her son, Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache), has been treating her and indicating some of her overbearing nature. The inciting incident is when she learns her son has been involved in an car accident where he has killed a child crossing a street. Prior to having met Barbu there’s an indicator and we then proceed to see how she interacts with him, her husband, the police and the victim’s family.

What’s impressive throughout the course of the film is that aside from the beginning where she is being established and getting some reasonable advice from her sister, there really isn’t vocalized judgment of Cornelia, but rather an understanding both of her and all characters involved that allows the drama to unfold in a very palpable way throughout ever ascending to the film’s finale.

In my Twitter reaction, which is admittedly usually more of a knee-jerk, I advised perspective viewers of this film to hold on. It’s not that the film is ever slow or disengaging but the dramatic engine does take a bit of time revving up, but when it does in three consecutive dialogue-driven setpieces with a witness to the crime, Barbu’s wife, Carmen (Ilinca Goia), and lastly with the victim’s family the full gamut of the situation is examined; as well as the multiple facets of her character with nearly Bergmanesque precision. It also bears mentioning going in that you’re in for a character study and not a procedural thriller and thus you’ll be far less ambivalent about how things play out.

Luminita Gheorghiu in this film delivers one of the powerhouse performances of the year, which perhaps more than anything underscores my lament of not yet having caught up with the Romanian New Wave going on at current, as she features in many of the notable titles in the past few years.

Another joy to discover in this film is when a strong supporting performance comes to the fore later in the game and makes a strong statement, and Ilinca Goia in her extended scene does just that.

Child’s Pose is a morality play unconcerned about legalistic outcomes but rather about how different people with disparate agendas behave to escape culpability or deal with the gravity of what they’ve done. It’s about Cornelia, yes, as she is insistent most everything concerns her in one way or another, but in their struggles to state their case and separate themselves it does manage to be about the other characters and the situation as well.