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4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Four out of Five Stars
Genre: Drama
Rated: No Rating
Directed by:
Cristian Mungiu
Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov, Luminita Gheorghiu, Alex Potocean
Released by: IFC Films

In Short: This intense, emotional film from Romania is a searing glimpse into the dark days of the late 1980s when that country suffered terribly under the repression of Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
One Very Bad Day
by Jenny Peters

There’s a reason that Romanian writer-director Cristian Mungiu received the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious top honor, the Palme d’Or, as well as numerous other esteemed awards for his quietly heart-wrenching film, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.” It is because his movie succeeds on so many levels, from an intensely private, personal story to a much larger look at the culture of repression that existed in Romanian society under the Communist reign.

As the film begins, college student Gabriela (the pale, dark-haired beauty Laura Vasiliu) has a problem. She’s pregnant (which is what the numbers in the title reference), and has enlisted her roommate Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) to help her to procure an abortion. Problem is, abortions are illegal, so the two have to go through the black market in order to find someone willing to do it immediately, and on the q.t.

Laura Vasiliu and Anamaria Marinca in 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Anamaria Marinca in 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

As the day progresses, the women find themselves in a series of disturbing situations as they struggle to get Gabriela’s problem taken care of, a problem that has gone on way too far as it is. Set against a bleak cityscape of poverty and need, the desperate story reflects the desperate reality that engulfed every Romanian’s life for decades of oppression.

Central to the story is Otilia, whose decision to help Gabriela reverberates tragically through her life, shaking up her romantic relationship and messing with her emotional stability as well. Anamaria Marinca’s performance is so well-acted, and the English-subtitled film so relentlessly real, that it is hard to believe that this isn’t actually a documentary.

“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” is everything a movie should be—illuminating, emotionally affecting and thought provoking. In fact, this film will stay on your mind long after the screen goes black (especially if you are a woman), and it is a triumph for its creator.

(Updated 01/25/08 NJ)

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