4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile | 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)
After the fall of Communism in 1989 Romania & a decade of struggle due to the post-revolution after-effects, a new breed of filmmakers started what turned out to be the resurgence of Romanian films in world cinema which have, over the course of the new millennium, greatly impressed the film critics & viewers around the world. And leading this new cinematic wave & the most notable testament to Romania’s renaissance & steady prominence in today’s film world is none other than director Cristian Mungiu’s sociopolitical drama, 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, which not only is, arguably, the finest film that Cinema of Romania has offered us so far but is also one of the decade’s most accomplished, powerful & haunting works of cinematic art.
Winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days is set in the final years of Communist Romania and tells the story of two young students named Otilia & Gabita, who are trying to transact an illegal abortion for the latter. When a doctor volunteering to do the unlawful job finally comes up, their hope is kindled but once his real motive surfaces, it results in a catastrophic incident that ends up changing the lives of both girls, forever. The movie is more focused on the life of Otilia & through her makes its hard-hitting statement as we see how she ends up being a victim of trying to do good for no reason at all while the film also portrays the changes the disturbing experience brings in her persona, belief & relationships.
Filmed on a modest budget & scarcely available resources, writer-director Cristian Mungiu makes this film work surprisingly well and proves that a little originality & creativity goes a long way in overcoming any filmmaking barrier than the millions of dollars. The plot is very silently structured & cleverly executed while the script maintains an effortless naturalness to keep the drama plausible and Mungiu has done a fab job in both departments. Making effective use of raw photography, long takes & controlled movements, the crude cinematography adds significant depth to the plot and, thanks to the expertly carried out editing, there isn’t a wasted moment or filler in the film as every scene adds something meaningful to the plot, even the seemingly unnecessary ones. And finally, the production design truly created the required environment to exemplify the dark, crumbling & repressed Romania of the late 1980s.
If the direction & writing is supposed to be a film’s backbone, then the performances represent its soul. And as far as the performances of this film is concerned, they are pretty top-notch. Anamaria Marinca stars as Otilia, a young student who tries to help her friend in obtaining an illegal abortion, and her performance is very moving, gut-wrenching & most impressive of them all. Plus, it is she who really binds this film together & transfixes us throughout its 113 minutes of runtime. The next best performance comes from Laura Vasiliu, who plays Otilia’s friend & pregnant roommate, Gabita, and captured her character’s fear, nervousness & confusion splendidly. The best moments of the film are definitely the scenes between these two amazing actresses and the ambiguous ending leaves the fate of their friendship entirely to its audience.
The only disappointing thing about this film is that it’ll polarize a lot of its viewers. Many will end up loving it for the very same reasons others are likely to hate it for. Even though the film deals with the subject of abortion, this gritty cinema neither supports nor opposes it and is simply an examination of a restricted life under an oppressive regime. On an overall scale, exhibiting a brilliant execution of a strong script & its morally troubling theme by structuring it like a suspense thriller while also displaying superb camera-work in capturing the bleak Romania of the late 1980s with its long, unsettling & static handling of shots, 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days is an uncompromising work of thought-provoking cinema that might leave you emotionally devastated but is still a must for everyone who loves taking their movies seriously.