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I'll Be a Home Wrecker for Christmas

MOVIE REVIEW
Tuesday, After Christmas (2010)

Tuesday-after-christmas-mimi-branescu-mirela-oprisor-maria-popistasu
Lorber Films

The latest entry in the Romanian New Wave canon, “Tuesday, After Christmas” is curiously devoid of Romanian characteristics. In fact, if you know nothing about it from the outset, the film won’t even strike you as Romanian until actor Dragoş Bucur appears in a minor role and makes a self-referential in-joke about “Police, Adjective,” a film he starred in.

Indeed, “Tuesday, After Christmas” is a fairly nondescript middle-class European art film. It opens with the alluring image — one that also appears in its poster and miscellaneous publicity materials — of two attractive actors stark naked in bed. This turns out to be the only tender and loving scene in the movie, and it depicts the illicit affair of a married man and a much younger woman: Paul (Mimi Brănescu) and his daughter’s dentist Raluca (Maria Popistașu). The film immediately juxtaposes Paul’s afternoon delight and his marital ennui, as he and wife Adriana (Mr. Brănescu’s real-life spouse Mirela Oprişor) run down their Christmas shopping list at a mall.

Yes, those beautifully detailed long takes are unmistakably Romanian. But the airy lofts, neoteric shopping centers, posh restaurants and modern dental clinics are unlike anything we’ve previously seen in the Romanian New Wave. Look, they even have iPhones in Romania! It’s probably important for us ignorant foreigners to see the country in a light different from that of the Communist ruins we’re used to, but “Tuesday, After Christmas” simply doesn’t add anything new to the stale tale of infidelity. Eventually Paul must choose between wife and mistress, even as his extramarital activities become increasingly humdrum. Director Radu Muntean — who co-wrote the screenplay with Alexandru Baciu and Răzvan Rădulescu — could have put more of a Romanian spin on the proceedings, which would have been fascinating. But if “Tuesday, After Christmas” were meant as some sort of a critique on capitalist middle-class entitlement and complacency, it has failed miserably.

TUESDAY, AFTER CHRISTMAS

Opens on May 25 in Manhattan.

Directed by Radu Muntean; written by Alexandru Baciu, Razvan Radulescu and Mr. Muntean; director of photography, Tudor Lucaciu; edited by Alexandru Radu; set design by Sorin Dima; produced by Dragos Vilcu; released by Lorber Films. In Romanian, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Mimi Branescu (Paul Hanganu), Mirela Oprisor (Adriana Hanganu), Maria Popistasu (Raluca), Sasa Paul-Szel (Mara Hanganu), Dragos Bucur (Cristi), Victor Rebengiuc (Nucu), Dana Dembinski (Raluca’s mother), Silvia Nastase (Ica), Carmen Lopazan (Cosmina), Adrian Vancica (Mircea Dumbraveanu) and Ioana Blaj (Narcisa).

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