BERLIN: Romanian director Călin Peter Netzer won the Golden Bear in 2013 for his family drama Child’s Pose / Poziția Copilului. He returns to competition in Berlin with a complex study of love, mutual inter-dependency and mental illness Ana Mon Amour
Ana Mon Amour follows the development of the relationship between Ana played by Diana Cavallioti and Toma played by Mircea Postelnicu. We first see them meeting as grad students at university where a discussion about Nietzsche turns into a flirtation where they are really checking each other out. The scene changes when Ana no doubt reacting to the feelings brought on by the encounter with Toma suddenly feels sick and tells Toma it must be because she forgot to take her medication. Ana suffers from severe panic attacks that are psychological in nature. Toma handles the situation calmly getting her to lie down and comforting her. It is obvious that rather than being put off by her problems he is ready to take on caring for her.
Finding that they each need each other Toma and Ana begin a love affair that is at first full of hopes and dreams. The film is strung together with visits to psychoanalysts and jumps back and forth in time as we watch their relationship develop and change along with their therapy and mental state. Toma is endlessly patient with Ana supporting her through a string of doctors.
Part of their problems stem from their family relationships. Toma meets Ana’s Moldavian mother played by Tania Popa and her stepfather Igor played by Igor Caras Romanov. We learn that Igor was still bathing Ana and sleeping next to her when she was 14. While Ana says Igor never sexually molested her it is obvious that this inappropriate relationship from her childhood played a role in her mental illness and panic attacks.
We also see Toma’s more middle class family when Toma take Ana home to meet his parents. Toma’s father played by Vasile Muraru is clearly a control freak and ends up yelling at Toma for getting involved with someone who is mentally ill. Toma clearly gets his desire to control people and situations from his father. His relationship with Ana is devoted and loving but also allows him to control her life.
When Ana becomes pregnant she begins to recover and becomes stronger mentally as she gives birth to their son and takes on the duties of motherhood. Meanwhile we see Toma’s visits to his psychoanalyst played by Adrien Titieni. Ana’s growing strength becomes a problem for Toma as her need for his care diminishes and the dynamic of their relationship changes.
One of the highlights of the film is when Toma seeks help from a priest played by the wonderful actor Vlad Ivanov. The priest gives Toma good and practical advice that probably is more sound than anything the psychoanalysts have to offer.
Ana Mon Amour is a complex and masterly study of relationships and inter-dependency and most of all its two leading actors turn in astonishing performances. The film is set against a background of Romanian society that takes a wry look at human nature and family influences. This is sure to be a worthy follow-up to Child’s Pose and looks set for a successful international festival run.
Ana Mon Amour (Romania, Germany, France)
Directed by Călin Peter Netzer Cast: Mircea Postelnicu, Diana Cavallioti, Carmen Tănase, Vasile Muraru, Tania Popa, Igor Caras Romanov, Adrian Titieni, Vlad Ivanov, Ioana Florea, Ionuț Caras Produced by Parada Film, Augenschein Filmproduktion and Sophie Dulac Productions
Supported by the Romanian Film Centre, Eurimages, the MEDIA Programme, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Aide aux Cinémas du Monde / Institut Francais, HBO România, Studio Video Art, Watch Me Productions, Orange România, Next Advertising, McCann Bucharest Sales: Beta Film www.betafilm.com