Sunday, July 24, 2011

TUESDAY, AFTER CHRISTMAS (Radu Muntean, 2010)

****½
Romania
The Romanian New Wave (does it have a proper name yet or do I just keep calling it that?) is still going strong.

Unlike his more celebrated peers (think stories of undercover abortion, scruffy seniors left to die alone etc.) Radu Muntean is concerned with the first Romanian generation to achieve a modest sort-of affluence. Affluence in this context means a medium-sized flatscreen, an annual ski trip, piano lessons for the child and a reliable income that means you no longer have to live either with your parents or your spouse's parents.

So once a nation's socio-economic subsets start to shift (at least for a certain section of educated thirtysomethings living in the capital) so does the nature of its people's day-to-day conundrums and the cinema that reflects them. There is no sign here of toothless grandmas or sadistic abortionists. The case of adultery that drives this story might as well be borrowed from any generic Western European heavy-breathing prestige package.

But don't let the plot outline scare you - there is nothing generic about Muntean's film. The lived-in settings, the careful accumulation of detail,
the alternately mundane and staggering dialogue, the uniformly, uncannily natural performances: for this story and these characters the point of reference isn't the European arthouse tradition - it's lived experience.

Hopefully this film's comparative success will also bring attention to Muntean's previous and similarly lacerating Boogie. And hopefully this 'New Wave' keeps going and going.


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