Nov 3, 2007

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a journey into Romania, 1987. It is a journey into a world most of us will never touch, thankfully. It is a journey of grim reality and unrelenting tension. Ultimately this film, whilst never entertaining in the true sense, is deeply moving and immensely rewarding. Directed by Christian Mungiu, this quietly disturbing piece of cinema won the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year. It is easy to see why, for it will definitely stay in your mind for days after seeing it. Essentially a simple story, it is set in one night. Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) and Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) are University students. They live in a dorm, a very spartan lifestyle where simple possessions like cigarettes and candy are traded like gold. It is a very austere world, where oppression is omnipotent and desperation breathes through many minutes in their lives. Gabita is paying to have an abortion, an act deemed criminal by the state. She is scared, indecisive and weak of will. Otilia is a doer, she knows the system and organises everything for her friend. Their night is joined by Mr Bebe (Vlad Ivanov), who they intend to pay to carry out their requirements. He is objectionable and frightening to say the least and is just one of many reasons why their night is full of tension and increasing apprehension. This film is quietly shot, with long scenes of inaction and dialogue. It slowly builds a grip on you as you become entranced, and sometimes repulsed, by the scenes in front of you. Finely acted with great understatement and subtlety this film manages very skillfully to convey the fear and dread felt by the two lead characters. I felt quite drained by the finish, perhaps a film that would be hard to see twice, but absolutely one that I could recommend strongly is viewed once by all lovers of fine cinema.

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