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“Parents find fulfillment in their children”. There’s not a truer statement found throughout Razvan Radulescu’s impeccable screenplay. Radulescu, a key component to the Romanian film movement, has contributed to the scripting of impressive features like 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days and Tuesday, After Christmas. Child’s Pose is a fine exercise in his craft in its finely tuned noir elements and impressive ear for dialogue. But while the writing soars, the direction falters, proving that a subpar directorial presence can fail even the most eloquent passages of scripting.
The picture begins in what is now typical Romanian New Wave design - a jarring, quasi-epileptic camera capturing a discussion midway. Cornelia (Luminita Gheorghiu) is distraught over feelings of abandonment from her now 30-something son. She goes about her life in typical mid-age fashion, capable of biding her time through her upper-middle class affluence. It’s not until her friend notifies her that her son was in a car accident where the victim, a teenager, was killed. This prompts her maternal instinct, whereby she essentially walks her son through his statement to the police and insures he does nothing that could be considered incriminating.
Child’s Pose offers a compelling indictment on the nature of maternal commitment to their children and the problematic reliance that some children may have on their parents. In a way, Cornelia is the model helicopter parent, insuring that her child not face the consequences of his actions. Radulescu thankfully compounds the simplicity of this sort of narrative with intermingling components that complicate matters - was Cornelia’s son a victim of incestuous sexual abuse? Could he possibly be gay? These questions are not presented matter-of-factly but rather part of a tapestry of subtext that bares strong cultural roots. The material is cultivated through Gheorghiu’s performance, baring a rich naturalism as she confronts authorities and the bereaving parents of the victim.
Unfortunately, the construction of the film doesn’t offer much to latch onto. Netzer simply doesn’t have the directorial faculties to really allow the picture to come to life. This might also have a lot to do with how South Korean director Bong Joon-ho covered similar terrain with his 2009 film Mother - with that effort possessing more panache in a single frame over what Netzer has to offer. The opening of the film is a particular example of this, whereby Netzer seems more content in aping the stylistic tendencies of his colleagues rather than presenting a wholly new perspective. This problem aside, Child’s Pose is a welcome addition to the Romanian New Wave movement, but unlike many films from the movement, this is one that feels well-charted and familiar.