4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Details: (MA15+), 108 mins, Romania,
Synopsis: Otilia (Anamaria Mariunca) and Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) share a room in a student dormitory at the University in a small town in Romania, during 1987, the last year of communism. One afternoon, Otilia rents a room in a cheap hotel, where they are going to meet a certain Mr. Bebe (Vlad Ivanov). Gabita is pregnant, abortion is illegal – and frighteningly new to both girls. Neither Br Bebe nor the process turns out to be what was expected and the ramifications of the event are destined to ripple through their lives.
An original and provocative film.
In 1966 abortion became illegal in communist Romania. From then until the fall of communism in 1989, approximately 500,000 women died as a result of illegal backyard abortions.
4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won the 2007 Palme d’Or at Cannes, tells the story of Gabita and Otilia. Gabita needs an abortion and her roommate Otilia agrees to help her.
Set over a 24 hour period, the film is a gripping and impressive effort by writer director Cristian Mungiu. He paints a detailed picture of life in '80s Romania. It is bleak, grey and poor. A world of ID’s and suspicion, where personal freedom barely exists.
The camera work is spectacular. Many of the scenes are shot in 180 to 360 degrees… all hand-held, which creates immediacy as we race with Otilia through the grey street of Bucharest. Mungiu mainly uses one shot per scene. He allows the details of locations and scenarios to tell the story. It’s almost like watching a play.
Mungiu avoids close ups, allowing the emotion of the scene to be conveyed through the detailed and often banal dialogue. His script is dense with talk, yet thin on plot. At first, I found this frustrating but then appreciated its cleverness as the film unfolded. I became immersed in the girl’s world and their dire situation. I really cared.
The performances are amazing. Anamaria Marinca is so good as Otilia the loyal friend. She never succumbs to self pity and my heart broke for her. Laura Vasiliu as Gabita is so fragile that you worry she will disintegrate and Vlad Ivanov as the dubious doctor is chilling.
4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days gives such an amazing glimpse inside a world that hopefully will never exist again. It’s a dark provocative film that is not for the fainthearted.
For its honesty and originality I’m giving it 4 stars.
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