4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days (2007) – movie review

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Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov, Alex Potocean
Director: Cristian Mungiu

A Palme d’Or Winner at the Cannes Film Festival, this plucky Romanian film is bleak, uncomfortable viewing but riveting and well-made. Under the communist regime (which only came to an end in Romania in 1989) abortion was illegal, and the film depicts what became a common scenario during this time, possibly as a potential act of rebellion against the Government.

Otilia and Gabita are roommates at University. When Gabita gets pregnant, Otilia does everything she can to help her obtain an abortion, including renting a room in a cheap hotel and bringing illegal abortionist Mr Bebe along to the hotel. Eventually there are personal costs to Otilia herself whilst Gabita looks on; promising to be at the birthday celebration of her boyfriend’s mother, Otilia finds she has other things on her mind.

The film is at its shocking best in the dialogue between the girls and Mr Bebe in the hotel room – a conversation that makes your blood run cold at its sheer cruelty – and the eventual disposal of the foetus.

The film is part of a larger series of films by Mungiu and Mobra Films, called Tales from the Golden Age – a subjective history of communism in Romania told through its urban legends. The idea is to depict situations as they were then, as normal life, without directly alluding to communism.

The film’s subject may be shocking to some but to its credit it is filmed in a way that necessarily downplays what was, in Romania, an unfortunately common story.

4 out of 6 stars