Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Ryan Gosling in Talks for 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' Ryan Gosling in Talks for 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents Watch: The New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Has Landed Watch: The New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Has Landed Watch the Teaser Trailer for Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' Watch the Teaser Trailer for Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' Russia Bans Tom Hardy Thriller 'Child 44,' "A Bloody Mass of Orcs and Ghouls" Russia Bans Tom Hardy Thriller 'Child 44,' "A Bloody Mass of Orcs and Ghouls" Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 'Queen of Earth,' Starring a Gloriously Unhinged Elisabeth Moss, Goes to IFC 'Queen of Earth,' Starring a Gloriously Unhinged Elisabeth Moss, Goes to IFC LA Film Fest Adds 10 Buzzy Indies and First-Ever TV Gala to Lineup LA Film Fest Adds 10 Buzzy Indies and First-Ever TV Gala to Lineup Cary Fukunaga Takes Over Long-Stalled 'The Alienist' as TV Series Cary Fukunaga Takes Over Long-Stalled 'The Alienist' as TV Series Why the Istanbul Film Festival Cancelled Its 2015 Competition Why the Istanbul Film Festival Cancelled Its 2015 Competition The Dramatic Story Behind Satyajit Ray's 50s Masterpiece 'The Apu Trilogy' (Exclusive) The Dramatic Story Behind Satyajit Ray's 50s Masterpiece 'The Apu Trilogy' (Exclusive) The New Ladder: Anatomy of Indie Women's Picture 'Farah Goes Bang' The New Ladder: Anatomy of Indie Women's Picture 'Farah Goes Bang' Lars von Trier's Last Cannes Q & A: "Stupid" Statements, Melancholia, "I Am Not a Nazi," Dunst, Cruz Lars von Trier's Last Cannes Q & A: "Stupid" Statements, Melancholia, "I Am Not a Nazi," Dunst, Cruz

Review: Motherly Love Spirals Out of Control in Romania's Chilling Oscar Entry 'Child's Pose'

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! February 18, 2014 at 11:33AM

Cinema loves its messed up mother-son relationships. But rarely are they handled with the mastery of Calin Peter Netzer's tale of smotherly love "Child's Pose," Romania's 2014 Oscar entry and also one of the country's strongest films in a surprising, prosperous New Wave of films.
0
'Child's Pose'
'Child's Pose'

From Hitchcock's "Psycho" to Siegel and McGehee's "The Deep End," cinema loves its messed up mother-son relationships. But rarely are they handled with the mastery of Calin Peter Netzer's tale of smotherly love "Child's Pose," Romania's 2014 Oscar entry and also one of the country's strongest films in a surprising, prosperous New Wave of films by Cristian Mungiu and Cristi Puiu. Add Netzer to that list.

Luminita Gheorghiu plays Cornelia, a wealthy, weathered, swilling matriarch who manipulates her entire family. Especially her son Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache) who, after a hit-and-run, is about to undergo criminal prosecution for the manslaughter of a child. All wringing hands and cold calculation, Gheorghiu's is the sort of iconic performance that would get more plaudits if this weren't such a crowded year of other iconic performances. She has worked with Puiu and Mungiu before, as well as Michael Haneke, and once again slips into the world of the icy auteur like a pro.

The film is as much indebted to its handheld camera-wielding contemporaries as it is to classic neo-realism. But with more bite. Netzer comfortably enters genre territory, as the film unspools into a full-on thriller in its second half after laying the groundwork for richly textured, plausible characters whose strifes you believe and, more importantly, care about. Which is why the film works as high art drama and unnerving white knuckler all at once. 

Winner of the Golden Bear in Berlin earlier this year, it's a brilliantly written, guileless exploration of a mother's grotesque affection for her son. While the film deals in unmentionables, it articulates them with a brutal, arresting urgency. Why is the maternal bond so cinematic? The answer is unclear, but the subject finds its chilling apogee with "Child's Pose."

Will the film make the final five in the Oscars come January? Romania has been submitting films since 1966 and has yet to be nominated, though Mungiu's "Beyond the Hills" made the shortlist last year. It's about time the Academy tunes into this spate of amazing films coming out of Romania.

"Child's Pose" hits theaters February 19, 2014, via Zeitgeist Films.

This article is related to: Awards Season Roundup, Awards, Academy Awards, Best Foreign-Language Film, Child's Pose, AFI Fest, Reviews, Reviews


E-Mail Updates