I find it a little amusing that lately, the topic of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy has come up between my wife and I and our families. The conversations have never stemmed from this movie, but the fact remains that they have been had, and quite frequently. While most cases reported of this type of abuse come in extreme forms, or at least those are the kinds that we tend to talk about, I couldn’t help but recall this movie every time the conversation came up.
Less direct, just as damaging.
Basically, MSbP describes the exaggeration, fabrication or deliberate inducement of physical or psychological harm to those who are in their care. Mostly, this is associated with parent/child treatment and the need for attention the parents feed off of, causing them to abuse their children in order to remain in the limelight.
“Look how much suffering I’m enduring for the sake of my child!”
On the outset, one may not draw that conclusion from ‘Child’s Pose’, but taking a step back to take in the entirety of the film could cause your viewpoint to shift. The film’s Romanian name is ‘Pozitia Copilului’, which translates to ‘Position the Child’. Taking this translation into account while watching the film could put things in perspective. The entire time, no matter the circumstances, Cornelia is looming like a domineering Chess player, positioning her son in the best way possible to feed off his distress and cement herself as the dominant caretaker.
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
‘Child’s Pose’ is a brilliantly constructed character study that, as I’ve outlined, is far more than it appears. What seems on the outset to be a simple case of a mother trying to protect her son is truly something much deeper and far more disturbing. Yes, it goes even deeper than my theory of MSbP, for there is the son, Barbu, to take a look at, and the film’s hint towards Oedipal Complex (which is a internalized competition with his father for the affections and overall dominance of his mother) and these themes collide in a rather sordid tale that involves a familial dynamic like you’ve never seen. It’s strange how the film’s core subject, which deals with the death of a child, takes a backseat to the heated honesty pouring from the family’s life.
And let’s take a moment to immortalize what Luminita Gheorghiu accomplished with this incredible performance. She had so many moments to explode with ACTING and yet she knew how to present every facet of this woman and her emotional and psychological issues with such honesty, depth and naturalism. She’s absolutely stunning to watch.
Some films simply tell a story, and that’s great. Other films insert themselves into your soul and demand that you take a deeper look at yourselves and the people around you. ‘Child’s Pose’ is just such a film.
Solid A indeed, and verging on an A+, 'Child's Pose' grows and grows in my esteem the more I think about it. Earthy and brutally honest, there are few films this daring in their subtle transference of themes. Oscar didn't bite last year (when it was submitted by Romania for the Foreign Language Oscar) and they will outright deny it this year, despite being eligible in every other category, but who cares. Oscar doesn't deserve this treasure!