Corruption at an everyday, personal level doesn’t exist in the United Kingdom. To corrupt or be corrupted requires a very elevated station in society. To be able to embezzle, extort or exploit successfully is a privilege unattainable by almost everyone. We are aware that such irregular criminality exists; but it’s only newsworthy once or twice a decade – dodgy arms deals, postal voting fraud and the occasional bent copper. The extent of Parliament’s venality was shocking, but that elected officials played the system and still do is no secret.
In many parts of the world corruption is efficiency made endemic. A Kenyan colleague tells me that after a decade collecting dust, his school bible has finally found a useful purpose – as a prop to extricate himself from delicate negotiations with traffic police looking to supplement their income. He estimates that his “Man of God” ruse annually saves him enough to afford a return flight home to JFK.
Communism had ideologically withered long before it symbolically collapsed in the early nineties. Until that point, it continued to exist only because those in power feared their loss of power once the invisible hand replaced a badly stuffed envelope and a handshake.
As a remnant of a system that remains incompletely purged, well-greased inter-personal relations remain a more effective way of achieving the desired outcome. Calin Peter Netzer’s third film is a notional exploration of this issue in Romania, but the corruption extends far beyond mere financial transaction.
Child’s Pose unfolds as a series of otherwise innocuous scenes. The plot is deliberately, naturalistically slow. Each episode of dialogue gradually moves things forward but never reveals enough to inspire great affection. It’s technically perfect progression keeps Child’s Pose worth watching nonetheless.
Luminita Gheorghiu as the tragicomic anti-hero Cornelia is a domineering figure in the lives of everyone she knows. Nobody more so than her son Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache). As the film opens, we see her complaining about him to her sister; that he’s never got time for her, that the woman he’s with isn’t worthy of him and that fundamentally he can do no right except at her direction.
When Barbu is involved in a car accident and kills a fourteen year old boy, she sees her chance to bring him back into her sphere of influence. She matter-of-factly makes the necessary calls, arranges a covert meeting with the key witness and browbeats the police with hostile declarations of influence. It quickly becomes clear how ineffectual Barbu has been throughout his life, but as events unfold he finally starts to take control of his own life.
Through the quiet exploration of the minutiae of the everyday and how quickly corruption can undermine its foundation, Child’s Pose is a very worthy but not quite compelling thriller.
Child’s Pose is out on DVD now