A cruel 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
A very warm welcome was received at the two press screenings of Romanian director Cristian Mungiu’s second feature 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days [+see also:
interview: Cristian Mungiu
interview: Oleg Mutu
film profile], presented in official competition at the Cannes Film Festival today.
With gripping realism, the film tackles head-on the topic of abortion in 1987 Romania through a perfect psychological portrait of a friendship between two girls – one of whom decides to have an illegal abortion – in the socio-political-economic context of Ceauşescu’s last years in power.
The mastery of a very clear style – alternating between ultra-dynamic hand-held camera movements following the main character (corridors, public transport) and strongly composed and fragmented scenes in enclosed spaces (mainly rooms) – has made Mungiu one of the major revelations of this festival, which has barely got underway.
Starring the excellent Anamaria Marinca and Laura Vasiliu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days opens in a residence where two 22 year-old students share a room. The seductive opening scene lends an almost documentary-like tone and an accelerated pace to the film. After all, it is a race against time, as the introverted Gabita (Vasiliu) is pregnant and has to abort in secret, a practice forbidden in Romania from 1966 to 1989. Extravert Otilia (Marinca) accepts to help with the preparation (money, booking a hotel room, meeting with abortionist) in an atmosphere of urban greyness that rubs shoulders with the business world (traffic, half-dilapidated buildings) and deaf police threats.
However, her friend’s kind support only creates problems for Gabita, as the abortion does not turn out as the two girls had first imagined. The doctor carrying out the “operation” (Vlad Ivanov) turns out to be a true torturer, out to take as much advantage as he can of Gabita’s distressful situation.
The dark and profound vision of masculinity ("you know, everything has a price in this world") could be interpreted as a metaphor of power, yet the director and scriptwriter preferred instead to place more emphasis on everyday details (including the abortion itself).
The film depicts a sanctimonious human journey with the pace of a thriller, with fine cinematography from DoP Oleg Mutu, who gives the film its oppressive stamp.
The first film in a series entitled Contes de l’Age d’Or (lit. “Tales in a Golden Age”) devoted to life in the Ceauşescu years, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was produced by Mobra Films (run by the director and his partner Mutu). The Saga Film co-production received backing from the Romanian National Film Centre and the Hubert Bals Fund, as well from Romanian television and Arte Germany.
International sales are being handled by Wild Bunch.
(Translated from French)
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