Review: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days B

A Film Review By Stefan Vlahov

Cristian Mingiu’s story of utter desperation and moral deprivation is somewhat appropriately set in 1980’s Romania – a time and place known for Communistic oppression and widespread poverty. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days is a film lacking even a single moment of hope or optimism, instead choosing to wallow in the endless dread faced by the film’s two heroines. They are college students Otilia (the beautiful Anamaria Marinca) and Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) who have to use everything in their power and go to great lengths to get a late-term abortion for Gabita. In a country where all forms of abortion are illegal, this is even more difficult then either one of them could ever imagine. Mingiu raises many questions that he refuses to answer, but those are the ones that are specifically related to the main storyline. The accurate portrayal of Communist Romania lets the audience in on the reality of the situation for everyone who had to endure this tyrannical regime. Yet, I am not prepared to say that Mingiu wants us to regard the two women’s story only as a plot device that works toward his anti-suppression message. Considering either one or both of them are on screen throughout most of the film’s running length, their unique story is really what vies for the audience’s attention and empathy, and that refusal from Mingiu to make this yet another film with an unsubtly-portrayed political message is what really puts it above the rest of the pack. But the fact that this film is so personal, also brings attention to the controversial topic of abortion that is the film’s main thematic element. To that end, this is not an anti-abortion film, though to say that it is pro-abortion would be like saying 10,000 B.C. is for the killing of animals for food. Mingiu’s imagery related to abortion is uncomfortable to the point that it makes it seem like a terrible event that should never have to be endured or performed, yet the trials that these two women go through in order to get it are so devastating and depressing one begins viewing the act of abortion as their much-needed salvation. Mingiu’s film includes many moments and camera angles that are familiar enough to indicate he is an avid fan of Hollywood cinema, and homages it, maybe without realizing it, throughout his film. His camera-work is also frustratingly reminiscent of Gus Van Sant’s long takes, but at least Mingiu’s use of inanimate objects is not as thought-provokingly pedestrian and nowhere near as obvious. Mingiu has created a film that is endlessly depressing, but strangely captivating and seems to have upstaged a lot of his Hollywood idols with the film’s superb technical quality, superb direction of actors, and detailed screenplay. Many will find his film unbearable and not worth taking the emotional toll for, but I recommend it without reservations – this is a filmmaker to watch who will hopefully have a long career ahead of him.

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