sun 26/05/2024

Child's Pose | reviews, news & interviews

Child's Pose

Child's Pose

Out-of-control mother love in fraught Romanian family drama

Luminița Gheorghiu as 'Child's Pose’s' Cornelia: an actor of uncommon strength

Cornelia is 60 and increasingly frustrated with her 34-year-old son, Barbu. He doesn’t communicate with her, she doesn’t approve of his girlfriend and the way he leads his life. Convinced she has to take command of her immature son, she’s suddenly presented with an opportunity to exert control.

The release of the Romanian film Child’s Pose in the same week as Gloria – the Chilean story of a 58-year-old woman making the most of life – is uncanny, as each offers a wildly different take on similar raw materials.

Child's Pose Barbu Bogdan DumitracheLuminița Gheorghiu’s Cornelia has exacting standards which hardly anyone can match up to. Part of a noveau-riche set, she can afford to offload expensive, barely-worn shoes to her housekeeper in a clumsy trade-off for information about her son’s apartment, which she also cleans. Cornelia is brittle, unhappy and constantly at loggerheads with almost everything coming her way. But she loves Barbu and wants what’s best for him. He, though, just isn’t grown-up enough – the child’s pose of the title (pictured above right, Bogdan Dumitrache as Barbu).

Barbu kills a child while speeding. The driver of the car he was overtaking is a witness. Cornelia brings Barbu home with her, tries to fix his statement to the police and meets the wily, vulpine witness, attempting to buy him off. Barbu won’t engage with his mother’s machinations and resignedly – another sign to Cornelia of his immaturity – accepts he will be punished. In the end, Cornelia gets most of what she wants and the brow-beaten Barbu sleepwalks his way into an encounter with the father of the child he has killed.

As a portrait of mother love, Child’s Pose says that mother-son relationships need limits. Most anyone would run the other way if they had a mother like Cornelia. Despite caring, she has no idea how to moderate her behaviour. Barbu is indeed a lump, but his life is his own now. The girlfriend who doesn’t meet Cornelia’s exacting standards - Ilinca Goia’s Carmen – turns out to be perfectly sensible and realistic, even when on the receiving end of Cornelia’s hectoring and insults. A conversation with Cornelia wears her down so much that she reveals details of her sex life with Barbu to the woman who just might become her mother-in-law. An unforgettable scene.

Child's Pose Ilinca Goia Carmen Director Călin Peter Netzer and his veteran co-screenwriter Răzvan Rădulescu (The Death of Mr Lazarescu; Tuesday, After Christmas) have fashioned a film that's uncomfortable to watch and almost as hard to like as Cornelia. Child’s Pose is so specific to its setting that it is hard to disentangle the film from Romania itself. With corruption commonplace and with its commentary on the attitudes of the aspirational, moneyed classes, it touches on statements about current-day Romania which have been aired more subtly in Police, Adjective, more powerfully in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and The Death of Mr Lazarescu, and more obliquely in Tuesday, After Christmas and Beyond the Hills (pictured left, Ilinca Goia as Carmen).

The film hinges on Gheorghiu and her vivid portrayal of Cornelia. She appeared in Beyond the Hills, The Death of Mr Lazarescu and Michael Haneke’s Code Unknown, and is an actor of uncommon strength. The ambiguity and fragility she brings to the damaged Cornelia linger longer than impressions of the film itself. For this alone, Child’s Pose has to be seen.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Overleaf: Watch the trailer for Child's Pose


Watch the trailer for Child’s Pose


Most anyone would run the other way if they had a mother like Cornelia in 'Child's Pose'


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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