Tuesday, After Christmas: Film Review

The essence of Muntean's infidelity tale is weighed down by rambling details.

More than slice-of-life, Radu Muntean's "Tuesday, After Christmas" is dice-of-life, but the dissected minutiae of this adultery drama unfortunately doesn't add up to a very original or moving whole.

CANNES -- More than slice-of-life, Romanian director Radu Muntean's Tuesday, After Christmas is dice-of-life -- but the dissected minutiae of this adultery drama unfortunately doesn't add up to a very original or moving whole. Lovers of neo-neo-realism will extol the film's painstaking honesty so Tuesday can count on extensive festival exposure and auteur venues -- Muntean's forte. It will not have much television or DVD play across borders though.

As in his previous film Boogie, the director again focuses on a man in crisis. Successful, 30-something banker Paul (Mimi Branescu) is married to Adriana (Mirela Oprisor) and has a daughter Mara (Sasa Paul-Szel, wonderfully spontaneous), but is having an affair with the younger Raluca (Maria Popistasu), the girl's dentist. In the days before Christmas, Paul realizes it's time to choose between one of his two lives.

The actors are quite good but have little to do, which at times is just awkward. (In one scene, Adriana and her sister barely seem know one another.) The voyeuristic film is so understated that if we didn't know Paul was having an affair, the action on-screen would have little resonance. The fly-on-the-wall approach, however, requires a more economical screenplay that the film simply does not have.

Not that the story need be overwrought, but between this and the histrionics Muntean clearly wants to avoid there exists worlds of emotional possibilities. Especially since an hour passes before the denouement arrives. By then --even if the film's subdued tone is meant to reflect passionless, middle-class routine -- Tuesday sags from too many inconsequential scenes and rambling conversations.

Technically, Muntean and cinematographer Tudor Lucaciu make great use of the camera. The director allows an actor to wander offscreen as he continues speaking to linger on someone else's reactions and later may or may not return to them. And in one of the film's stronger scenes we just see Paul and Adriana's feet, which he massages.

The film's only music comes, a few times, from background radios.

Venue: Festival de Cannes -- Un Certain Regard
Sales: Films Boutique
Production company: Multi Media Est
Cast: Mimi Branescu, Mirela Oprisor, Maria Popistasu, Sasa Paul-Szel, Dragos Bucur, Victor Rebengiuc, Dana Dembinksi, Silva Nastase
Director: Radu Muntean
Screenwriters: Alexandru Baciu, Razvan Radulescu, Muntean
Producer: Dragos Vilcu
Director of photography: Tudor Lucaciu
Production designer: Sorin Dima
Sound editor: Electric Brother
Costume designer: Giorgiana Bostan
Editor: Alexandru Radu
No rating, 139 minutes