Sunday, January 22, 2012

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: Tuesday, After Christmas****(2010)

Reviewed by Shu Zin

Romanian director Radu Muntean delivers near perfect realism in TUESDAY, AFTER CHRISTMAS. In the opening scene, Paul (Mimi Branescu) banters in bed with his pretty young lover, Raluka (Maria Popistasu). Then we meet Paul's wife and adolescent daughter. The story here is how they all get through the Christmas holidays, and the method of revealing the emotional impact of a cracking marriage is through careful observation of small details, rather than through histrionics or back-story. 

Paul is a very attractive, successful man who never loses it, and it is this very coolness under pressure that makes him something of a hollow man. He is, ultimately, the quintessential egocentric cad, and he treats the women in his life like props in a play. One of the most revealing moments in this smart, engaging film is when Paul's friend is leaning back on Raluka's bed with a beer, after helping to move some things. He shares a little “guy” moment with Paul that requires no words for them to agree on men and the nature of life. Watch carefully, or you might miss the significance of this small gesture that really is the final word on the meaning of Paul's actions in the film. Eschewing the hyper-realistic approach of a director like Michael Haneke or the more bombastic approach of someone like Ozon or Pasolini, Muntean simply, subtly, quietly, nails the truth.

Reviewed by Shu Zin

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