Cristian Mungiu’s Palme d’or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days is as good as you’ve heard — ravaging, provocative, deeply moving, and expertly crafted — but it may not be what you expect. Billed by many as the “Romanian abortion movie” (something akin to labeling “There Will Be Blood” the “American oil movie”), 4 Months isn’t simply about abortion, even if the film uses it as its structuring conceit. So yes, Mungiu’s film concerns two friends, Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) and Gabita (Laura Vasiliu), who attempt to procure an illegal abortion for the latter in the waning days of the Ceausescu regime, but it is not an “abortion movie” in the vein of Mike Leigh’s excellent Vera Drake or Alexander Payne’s Citizen Ruth. Otilia — and not Gabita — occupies the film’s narrative and moral center, and through this character, magnificently rendered by Marinca and insistently studied by Mungiu’s handheld camera, 4 Months becomes something far more expansive than a simple plot description could imply — a tense, riveting thriller (of a sort) that subtly evokes the experiences of women in a society that fiercely regulates their lives and bodies, often reducing them to commodities to be bought, sold, and bartered, no different at the extreme from the Kent cigarettes and orange Tic Tacs traded on the Bucharest black market.
Click here to read Chris Wisniewski’s review of Cristian Mungiu’s truly remarkable 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days.
Also, earlier, Michael Koresky on the film.