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Tuesday, After Christmas

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

So much stuff---the mall-bought detritus of modern life---dominates Tuesday, After Christmas, yet it all makes sense, since the film takes place during the giving season. There's a pink snowboard that may be too unwieldy for a small daughter, and a colorful blouse that's probably the wrong size for mom Adriana (Oprisor). Thickening hubby Paul (Branescu) knows he'll have to feign excitement over a new pair of hiking boots. Across town, Paul's thrills are definitely not faked with slender blond dentist Raluca (Popistasu), a paramour who'll have to make do with a pair of concert tickets. Later, we'll observe the lugging of a large Ikea box into a tiny apartment; elsewhere, a Barbie boat will sail across a dinner table.

But because this is a Romanian movie---and part of that country's exciting if somewhat severe new wave---a certain poverty reigns over the plenty. Paul's calm confession of his infidelity is all you're going to get, dramawise (and, the implication being, all you should need in this brave new world of realism). You won't be quoting any of this dialogue or thrilling to the visual poetry. Still, director Radu Muntean has pulled off the near-impossible, turning each scene (captured in capacious long takes) into arias of generosity for his actors. The performances have the mussed feel of total intimacy; even a lengthy discussion of orthodontic correction takes on a tone that's surprisingly gripping. Cleverly, the takeaway fits the mode perfectly: Families fall apart and life goes on, with all the toys and talk that muck it up.

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Written by Joshua Rothkopf
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