Though there’s a load of chatter involved, and the title may convey notions of the spirited holiday season, what’s under the tree in Tuesday, After Christmas isn’t a particularly joyful sample of Romanian Yuletide culture. A relationship drama that works proficiently well at describing the untimely burdens link to adultery, some of the themes that were addressed in his 2008 film Boogie are better explored here — Radu Muntean takes less strokes and holds onto his scenes longer for a long-lasting effect especially in the films’ final act.
Beginning first with a pair of naked bodies comfortable in their nudeness and then juxtaposed, one sequence later, with the same man but inside a different relationship dynamic that feels a bit past the seven year itch point, in a nutshell, this is about two people who have found themselves in not the most ideal moment with a predictable fate awaiting the remaining party. Alexandru Baciu, Razvan Radulescu and Muntean’s script works as an emancipation of something renewed, fresh and young, a feeling that conflicts with something that involves the more grounded family nest with a kid and mortgage in tow. How the sequences are mounted and how they follow one another showcases the basic timeline for crucial decision making moments that aren’t done on the whim as we often imagine. Whether it is done as selfishness or sincerity is a different issue left to one’s interpretation.
While breaking up is nothing new on the silver-screen, Muntean’s stance â€“ a realism merged in a subdued discourse which takes a point of view on the central character in actor Mimi Branescu very much like he were trying to gauge the one degree shifts in weather. Strong supporting female characters in The Paper Will Be Blue‘s Mirela Oprișor and Maria Popistașu will lure viewers into protag’s valid dilemma.
Because Muntean refrains from taking a moral stance and is more curious about what a cerebral, adulterous behaviour looks and feels like, it is in the poignant announcement sequence that is the cherry of the film — we are treated to a long take that culminates in years of one’s life lost in one snap statement. A fitting, final closing moment of the efficiently paced drama may not bring tears to one’s eyes, but the slight nudge speaks volumes about parental responsibility. Tuesday, After Christmas is a see it for anyone who might have been forced to become the third wheel.
Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Un Certain Regard.
100 Mins. May, 21st, 2009