My favorite movie released in 2011 has been conspicuously absent from film critics' year-end best lists. Maybe it's because the film premiered more than over a year ago at the 2010 Cannes festival, but its highly affective, penetrating account of marriage, parenting, and infidelity is still resonating with me long after I first saw it in May of last year. Forget "The Artist," "Tree of Life," "The Descendants," or "Hugo," the best movie of the year is Romanian filmmaker Radu Muntean's "Tuesday, After Christmas."
The slow-burning masterpiece takes the exacting long-take style of 2009’s totalitarian-era critique "4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days," and effectively transplants it to a more intimate tale of modern infidelity. "Tuesday" is what adult movies should be, from its subtle, revealing dialogue to its powerfully alive performances, lead by Mimi Branesco, as the almost callous husband, and Mirela Oprisor, as the fierce, wounded wife who lays into her spouse in arguably the best dramatic scene of the year.
But as A.O. Scott wrote in his review, "even scenes that might seem incidental are played out with meticulous attention to submerged emotional currents and telling ironies."
A child's dentist office visit, for example, turns into a subtextual, squirm-inducing psychological morass, all occuring just below the surface of banal talk and quotidian gestures.
And while "Tuesday," to the best of my knowledge, includes no political content whatsoever about Romania's troubled past, the film acutely examines the lies that drive our lives, and the selfish acts that we frequently make without being fully aware of their consequences or repercussions.
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