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Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS is a blistering and brutal film set in late 1980s Romania about a young woman helping her friend obtain an illegal abortion.  Brilliantly directed by Cristian Mungiu, this film is a study in using minimalist techniques to create maximum effect.  4 MONTHS was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year, but strangely was left out of the Academy Award nominations. 

The stage is set for the film in a bleak cold college dorm room where two girls are packing to go away.  The dialogue is mundane and very ordinary and the coming events are never set up for the audience, which actually serves to force the audience to pay closer attention to not only what is said….not what is left unsaid.  A majority of the film appears to have been shot with a hand held camera and mostly natural lighting.  There is also the absence of music or any sort of a score.  The film is primarily shot in several long takes with little editing.  This technique serves the narrative perfectly, as it gives the viewer a feeling of unease and as if they are a voyeur or “fly on the wall” into all of the unfolding events.  There is one scene in which Otilia (a fantastic Anamaria Marinca) leaves her friend Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) at a crucial moment in order to attend her boyfriend’s family obligation.  As she is at the dinner table with his family, they are chattering and laughing and she clearly feels trapped and desperately wanting to return to help her friend.  The scene is done in one long take and you never see any cutting between the guests at the dinner party.  The camera lingers on Otilia and holds her at the center of the frame for a long time.  Watching the scene, it creates a sense of tension and discomfort matched only by that of the character. 

The harrowing journey in this film is filled with bleak hotels, a maze of pitch black back alleys and unspeakable behavior.  Throughout the story, Otilia is forced to confront her lover Adi (Alex Potocean) and a horrific back-alley abortionist known as “Mr. .Bebe” (a chilling Vlad Ivanov).  The friendship of the two women is tested to the limit, but is also met without close ups, length speeches or judgment.  The film isn’t preachy and doesn’t take a side on the issue either way.  It simply presents a story, and an unforgettable one at that.

Written by Karie (site owner) on 01/29 at 09:28 PM

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