Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tuesday, After Christmas (2010, Muntean)

Rating: ****

Tuesday, After Christmas (2010) is cut so casually and paced so dutifully that its heavy reliance on extremely long takes doesn’t strike the viewer as extravagant or even exceptional. As the director Radu Muntean slowly dissects a love triangle involving a cheating husband, his wife and his gullible young lover, we expect violent outburst of emotion at any given moment. It doesn’t come, or at least it’s not served the way violent outbursts usually are. The film’s dramatic centerpiece – an eight-minute-long take showing husband’s confession and his wife’s response – traverses all possible emotions from irony to hysteria, and yet doesn’t feel manipulative or artificially condensed.

The film is as much about infidelity as it is about the day-to-day distribution of information that we perform at all times. Muntean deliberately starts off with a tender love scene, only to reveal through a casual cut that it was actually depicting an act of cheating. As we’re forced to figure out the exact geography of the husband’s lies, we are semi-complicit with him – nowhere is it more evident than in the long scene of the conversation between the (then unaware) wife and the high-strung lover, with the husband quietly soaking into the background, the way we already have when we decided to buy the ticket and take a seat.

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