'Child's Pose' Feels 'Terrifyingly Authentic'

Child's Pose sounds like something elementary and easy, but don't be fooled. This stunning film from Romania, a ferocious psychological drama with the pace of a thriller, is anything but simple.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film will be handed out in a couple weeks. And though Romania's "Child's Pose" is not one of the finalists, film critic Kenneth Turan says its as good as any of them.

KENNETH TURAN: "Child's Pose" sounds like something elementary and easy, but don't be fooled. This stunning film from Romania, a ferocious psychological drama with the pace of a thriller, is anything but simple. "Child's Pose" benefits from a spectacular performance by Luminita Gheorghiu, Romania's most gifted actress. She plays Cornelia, a politically well-connected architect, introduced complaining bitterly about how badly she's been mistreated by her son Barbu.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "CHILD'S POSE")

LUMINITA GHEORGHIU: (As Cornelia) (Foreign language spoken)

TURAN: Then fate takes a hand. Barbu drives too fast on a rural highway and kills a 14-year-old boy. Cornelia arrives at the local police station and begins to throw her weight around.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "CHILD'S POSE")

GHEORGHIU: (As Cornelia) (Foreign language spoken)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As character) (Foreign language spoken)

TURAN: As we watch strong-willed, relentless and obsessive Cornelia, we see - without a word being said - why her son fled from her in the first place. Yet "Child's Pose" is too sophisticated to paint Cornelia as the total villain. We see the genuine pain, anxiety and even despair that underlie her meddling behavior.

We watch in fascination and horror as Cornelia attempts to work her wiles on Romania's fragile justice system. But the bigger battle is the power struggle between mother and son. The question is not so much who wins, as who will realize that the fight itself is making both of them less humane.

The most impressive thing about "Child's Pose" is that it feels terrifyingly authentic at all times. Intensely emotional without being overdone, it pulls us so deeply into this story we feel it could be happening to people we know or even worse, to ourselves.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and for the Los Angeles Times.

It is MORNING EDITION from NPR News, I'm David Greene..

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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