Keswick Film Club - Reviews - 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days

Reviews - 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days

4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days

Reviewed By John Stakes

Abortion, legal or otherwise is not, understandably perhaps, an oft frequented subject matter for film makers or audiences ( with the notable exception of ‘ Vera Drake’ ) and many would find it difficult, if not impossible, to be persuaded that they might ‘ enjoy’ watching what here was at times a graphic depiction of the process. But read on. Last Sunday’s film by Romanian writer/director Cristian Mungiu was an utterly compelling and gripping account of the trauma associated with this intimately personal process.

So how could such a theme possibly engage an Easter Sunday audience for two hours on a crisp sunny afternoon?

The answer lies in the fusion of several ingredients. First, the period – Romania 1987. Ceausesco’s dictatorship is about to fall and life generally is difficult, insecure and uncertain - creating a dramatic backdrop of tension. This was a country where the black market flourished and was essential to enable everyday living to be endured. If caught the protagonists would be sent to prison. Secondly, the venue – a bedroom in a hotel where the mere act of passing in and out was fraught with difficulty reflecting the petty bureaucracy which bedevilled the regime and, in dramatic terms, cranked up the tension.

Next was the acting – painfully real and naturalistic. In the hands of the back street abortionist Mr Bebe ( Vlad Ivanor ) it was truly frightening as he manipulated an all- too-familiar situation to him to his gratifying advantage. The simple and effectively direct camera work brilliantly caught the fear and trepidation as it played, often in close-up, on the faces of the two lead girls so there was no escape or respite from the underlying strain and apprehension.

But perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the drama was the total switch in character focus. Initially our attention and sympathy were naturally drawn to the pregnant Gabita ( Laura Vasiliu ), but as the film developed our allegiances transferred completely to her friend Otilia who had decided to help her. That decision was to cost Otilia her dignity self respect and the collapse of her relationship with her boyfriend. Anamaria Marinca as Otilia deserved an oscar for her performance. The long static take on her face as she sat motionless and silent through her boyfriend’s family party was memorable, as was her shock at the depth of Gabita’s selfishness and indifference in the final restaurant table scene.

The film richly deserved its Palme D’Or at the 2007 Cannes film festival and was a thoroughly thought-provoking experience for the many who ventured indoors last Sunday.

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19th Keswick Film Festival

22nd-25th February 2018


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