Everyone knows them: the typical Christmas films that are overloaded with lush snow showers, crackling fires and cozy gatherings. But none of that is really realistic: many people only dread Christmas, and it is the time of year when people on Facebook most often turn their status back to ‘single’. How does the Romanian ‘Tuesday, After Christmas’, which despite its title only appears in Dutch theaters at the end of winter, fit into this ambiguity?
The film starts in an insidiously idyllic way, with a sultry moment between two lovers, bathed in the warm light that can squeeze you out of the Romanian December sun. Yet something is not right. Isn’t that girl a lot younger than that man? And are they now talking about a wife and daughter?
The latter turns out to be correct: reality soon emerges, when the man, Paul (Mimi Branescu) shows up in the marital home again. The difference between the two couples could not have been greater, because the marriage between Paul and his wife Adriana (Mirela Oprisor) has completely died out. Any kind of caress is missing between the two.
You would almost understand that Paul is seeking pleasure elsewhere with so much coldness, but the fact that ten years of marriage also produced a daughter makes it that much more complicated. It soon happens that all four of these protagonists – half of whom know nothing about the affair – end up in the same room, to make it all extra uncomfortable. The result is a beautiful scene, in which the eruption does not occur and so the tension builds up well.
And yes, Christmas is just around the corner. With all the obligations that come with the holidays, it becomes even more difficult for Paul to find a way out of that most diabolical of dilemmas: does he choose the boring, loyal wife or does he choose his playful, younger mistress Raluca (Maria Popistasu) ?
After that romantic opening scene, the remainder of the film has been portrayed quite soberly, with static shots from quite a distance that Romanian filmmakers are fond of nowadays without exception. Besides this dry style, the characters are not explored very extensively, so it is not easy to empathize with them extremely. On the other hand, this style ensures that when the bomb finally bursts and Mirela Oprisor with her Adriana can go all out, which is portrayed in an impressively raw way.
‘Tuesday, After Christmas’ does not address exciting new themes with this love triangle and at first sight lacks a groundbreaking artistic vision to really stand out. However, the end has been left open in such a refined way that the film makes you think in an extremely subtle way. Because the fact that such a bomb once bursts does not say much about how the shards are picked up.
This keeps ‘Tuesday, After Christmas’ gnawing for a while and the film is slightly better than average. It doesn’t quite measure up to the more overwhelming exponents of contemporary Romanian cinema, such as a movie like ’12: 08 East of Bucharest ‘- which is briefly mentioned in this film – or’ 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ . Nevertheless, ‘Tuesday, After Christmas’ is an entertaining film with enough subtle joys to be worth watching.