Pozitia Copilului (2013): People at its Heart

Upon its release, I happened to catch a screening of the film (English title: Child’s Pose) attended by the director and some of the actors, followed by a short Q&A. This sort of effort is part of a greater plan to bring appraised Romanian films closer to the Romanian audience, while also creating an association with the people responsible for their success, more often than not “against the odds”.

pozitia copilului.jpg
The story is set around a pampered man-child who ends up committing  a bit of involuntary vehicular manslaughter and his mother who works towards sorting out his predicament. What sets Netzer’s film apart from some of the other recent Romanian works of cinema is its sardonic humor which works best when it’s aimed at the characters and not at some of the pervasive practices of society. I’ve personally always felt that personal stories, meaning character stories, always came in second to some grand piece of social commentary, usually on the communist background of the country, in most of the acclaimed Romanian cinema of the 21st century. Not to say that such commentary lacks relevance, but there’s just more to modern life than its dark red heritage.

Of course, Pozitia Copilului is deeply rooted in antics which one could call symptomatic of Romania and as a means of characterization, the backdrop is justifiable. Occasionally though, when certain aspects come across a bit too hard pressed, they do a disservice to the otherwise excellent balance of a difficult story. This in no way undermines the beautifully detailed portrait of the film’s main character, a highly controlling, bossy, arrogant, mean-spirited mother. Her faults go quite a way to being redeemed by the passionate dedication with which she tries to protect her son, if one were to count such moral trade-offs. The ambivalence is so finely portrayed by Luminita Gheorghiu that both the moments of involuntary humor and the moments of pure drama work just as well.

It’s ironic that Mrs. Gheorghiu also played in “Moartea Domnului Lazarescu”, a film I found to be close at heart with “Pozitia Copilului”, in that it relies heavily on a complex central character and its critique is subtle, yet scathing. I’d go so far as to say that these kind of films, while still dominated by a type of post-modernist bleakness, can lead a shift of focus to the greater importance of characters as individuals in Romanian movies, not only as symbol stand-ins.

****

Originally published on imdb.