Two siblings and an illegitimate love. A father who's a doctor and several accusations. A family in which no one ever drew a line between what's moral and what's legal. Not even when it comes to abortion.
Paul Hanganu loves two women. Adriana his wife and the mother of their daughter, the woman with whom he's shared the thrills of the past ten years, and Raluca the woman who has made him redefine himself. He has to leave one of them before Christmas.
The film is inspired by true events and centers on a young journalist, who goes to Transylvania together with a French TV crew led by a top reporter, to deal with a case of a young prostitute repatriated from France.
Based on the true story of an impoverished, unemployed mother of seven living under subhuman conditions in a cave-like basement of a block of flats in newly post-communist Romania. When her... See full summary »
Radu, 45, rich and single, manages his business with a strong, unwavering hand and no scruples. His competition is now leading a charge against him on the stock market, which prompts Radu to remember a childhood game of beer bottle caps, a game that required risk-taking, effort and skill. A heart attack and the news that he might need a heart transplant determines him to head to a remote place, ... See full summary »
A humble Romanian actor in his 30s, hardly surviving between a complicated part in a musical, a depressed wife, and the obsession of an imminent, devastating earthquake, becomes the victim of his manipulative father.
Toma meets Ana while they are both literature students at university, and they fall in love. Ana suffers from panic attacks and Toma follows her to every dark corner she ends up in. He fights his parents when they reject her, accepts being a father and marries her and eventually becomes her babysitter, her driver, her everything. While he appears to be in control of their relationship, in fact Toma just revolves around a woman he cannot understand, pushing himself to the limit as he tries to save her. Ana slowly overcomes her ailments and they become pregnant, but as she gains a career and personal independence, Toma's world begins shuttering as his insecurities fester under the light of Ana's success. Neither can seem to live without the other, even if they may lead each other to ruin.
Netzer's follow-up to the excellent Child's Pose (2013) shares some elements with its precursor, but takes a different angle to the emotional roots and psychological ties of family life. A complex and layered film, it is framed in the present, but plays with the chronology of events to suit its thematic anchors: how relationships shape their protagonists and create inherent tension, abiding by no morality punch- card. While pertinent and polished in its construction, I found it hard to stay connected emotionally, especially as the characters evolve elliptically and the change in their dynamic feels abrupt.
Our couple is Toma and Ana, two lovers who meet during university and, more than anything, fall into a relationship. They are both cultured individuals and complete each other well, as Ana suffers from anxiety attacks and Toma is seemingly always there to support her. The movie proceeds to take us through the usual familial meet and greets, which prove traumatic and lay the groundworks for all the ensuing/existing psychological trauma. Those scenes have a sense of caricature about them, with 'traditional' values of partner screening proving funny and harrowing at the same time. But they prove to be just pieces of an ambitious human puzzle, which ends up taking us down an exploratory route devoid of superfluous emotion.
As an aside, some people in the cinema were taken aback by the explicitness of a sex scene, which I would rather deem justified, due to the Freudian aspects of Netzer's approach - and a meaningful character- building moment.
The attention to detail in fleshing out Ana and Toma provides the characters with a lot of depth. They are, as one would say, profoundly human in their imperfections and the manner in which this comes to the surface as their relationship evolves feels very true. The movie puts psychoanalysis at its core, turning it into an indirect plot device, which sometimes looks like a black box. More important though is how Ana and Toma react to change, in particular to Ana's gradual self- empowerment (thanks to a mixture of religion and psychoanalysis), which fundamentally alters Toma's role as 'the saviour'. It all becomes a matter of identity, of shaping and losing it, as defined by relationship roles, rather than intrinsic traits. Quite interestingly, the first scene finds the protagonists discussing Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil - the subjugation of morality to Christian dogma and the idea that good and evil are not quite opposites. By the end of the film, the overwhelming sense of some moral misappropriation between Ana and Toma can and, perhaps, should be seen through this lens, with no clear distinctions at hand for who is in the right and who might have been wronged.
While all this is intense and fascinating stuff, the chronological structure creates a bridge I couldn't cross. On the one hand, the technical execution of the to and fro was handled well - it's impressive how different degrees of a receding hairline can create a sense of time. Although some nuances are lost, that ends up challenging the viewer and keeping him engaged. On the other hand, because of gaps in time, Ana is difficult to grasp. She becomes a completely different person, which goes so far as her accent changing, and due to the elliptical nature of the story, she also feels emotionally like a third character in the relationship. Whereas Toma is more consistent throughout, Ana is fractured, making her feel foreign and inauthentic.
This is part of the reason why the second half of the film lost some momentum. Upon its conclusion, which tries a little twist and then goes one mile too far by trying to explain it, I wasn't engaged any more. It's a shame, because there is so much pain and sacrifice in Ana, Mon Amour that it really makes love feel like penance and weaves an exquisite psychological pattern to justify the claim. For the exploration it undertakes in what drives the two lead characters, both so well portrayed by Postelnicu and Cavallioti, it is commendable.
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