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Child's Pose cracks the thin ice of a haute-bourgeois life

<i>Child's Pose</i> cracks the thin ice of a haute-bourgeois life

Ah, the Romanians: Sometimes it seems like no one else is bothering to make movies for grownups anymore. With Child's Pose, the Romanian tide enters its Cassavetes phase, where the thin ice of haute-bourgeois life cracks and opens wide. Classically, we've got a character study under pressure, with Luminita Gheorghiu at its center. Her Cornelia is a retired Bucharest architect/über-mom, aging into a moneyed loneliness with an ineffectual husband and a single grown son, Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache), who hates her. Cornelia is a Black Hawk of a helicopter mom, and Barbu, a surly infant of a man lost in his thirties, is trapped in her shadow. The boom is lowered early, when Cornelia learns that Barbu, as yet unseen by us, has had a car accident out in the burgs and killed a small boy. Director Calin Peter Netzer launches into a new kind of detailed legal proceduralism, as a fur-adorned Cornelia calmly insinuates herself into the police station and struggles to save her "poor boy" from any culpability, down to questioning the witness reports, monitoring the blood tests, and seeking to perhaps bribe the forensic experts examining the car. Snapped into quiet overdrive, Cornelia therein attempts to re-mother her son, keeping him at her swanky flat, dosing him with anti-anxietals, even giving him a quasi-incestuous massage. Cornelia is no caricature — she's in an uneasy dance between control-freak confidence and over-her-head desperation. The climactic Cornelia challenge is a deft and unpredictable acting set piece; simply put, Gheorghiu, with vivid and perfectly judged performances in a half-dozen masterpieces or more (including two Michael Hanekes), may be the best actress of her fading generation.

 
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