Monday, 15 November 2010

LEEDS FILM FEST REVIEW: Tuesday After Christmas

I like films that are realistic, but Tuesday After Christmas takes it far too literally. Yes things happen, but they are so mind numbingly tedious, and happen to such unlikeable people that I really couldn’t care less.

A married couple with a young daughter are preparing for Christmas in Bucharest. Whilst they seem like a happy unit, the husband has been having an affair for the past few months with the family dentist, a younger and more carefree woman named Raluca. As the mistress leaves the capital to spend the holiday season with her mother, the husband’s attachment to her grows, and after lying to his wife and going to visit his lover, he reveals the truth on the Tuesday after Christmas, and despite an emotional argument and subsequent hostility between the parents they decide not to tell their daughter or the rest of the family until the new year.

It’s a strange paradox this film, as for all its dullness and slow pacing, it’s actually quite engrossing. Key scenes are just filmed in one shot, following the characters about the room until the camera finds a moment to cut away. The daughter getting her braces fitted at the dentists is a fascinating watch as she and the wife are oblivious to the relationship between husband and Raluca who are in the same room together and secretly hating the fact they can’t be alone. There’s no sexual tension as such, or secret daring touches or longing looks but yet a moment which is so trivial flies by. I commend the director for these episodes – the closing scene where the parents are getting through a dinner at the grandparents whilst loathing each other under the surface is also expertly shot, and acted. There’s a tinge of sadness about the mother being able to deftly hand the father the daughter’s present – which you see them buy earlier in the film together at the department store – behind her back without anyone noticing so they can pretend Santa’s been and gone. But sometimes these long drawn out scenes don’t work – whilst the cake eating scene is amusing it’s nowhere near as amazing as the LIFF film guide made it out to be, and the scene where the husband breaks the news to his wife that he’s met someone else just goes on and on and onnnnn, and with acting as bad as that you just want the house to collpse so you can be rid of them.

The problem with the film is that it’s a domestic drama, intended to relate to people who have been through similar events. But everything seems drab and predictable (husband tells wife, she’s mad, husband tells lover, she’s happy, husband moves into lover’s flat, etc) – there’s nothing new or interesting here, just a well directed film with a substandard script and mediocre actors. They babied their kid so much too – I couldn’t believe she was as old as eight! Subtitles also a complete mess (“the hole truth”; “witch way”) but I won’t hold that fault against them…

Don’t rush out to see this.

Tuesday After Christmas won the Golden Owl Award for Best Film at the 2010 Leeds International Film Festival.

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