Sunday, February 10, 2008

At Last—A Movie of Substance

Yesterday saw a film that’s not for the fainthearted. But it is for those who want a revelation of political, ethical, and moral issues of real substance. It’s from Romania, a country that’s just beginning to make itself known on the international cinema scene. The film is 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days—4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile in Romanian—by a young director, Cristian Mungiu. Presented mostly in real time, it covers a 24-hour span during which Otilia, a university student, helps her roommate, Gabriela, to obtain an abortion. The time is 1987, when the repressive Ceausescu regime had declared the procedure illegal. Gabriela, the weaker character, appears to have no clue about anything and relies on others to help her out of trouble. She isn’t even capable of making the necessary hotel reservation herself. Otilia has to do everything, including borrowing the necessary money; meeting up with the sinister abortionist, Bebe; and directing him to Gabriela. Meanwhile, she has to deal with her straight-arrow, mama’s-boy boyfriend and his irritating family without revealing what she’s up to. We are also reminded that the state controlled everyone’s life at this time: what you would study, where you would work, and so forth. We also get a glimpse of class snobbery, including urban versus rural. We come away with studies of human nature and society as a whole on many levels. Otilia learns much about men, both “solid citizens” and criminals; her strength of character and her sacrifices for her friend are the backbone of this remarkable movie. She does what has to be done, no matter the consequences. And we also are introduced to one of the most terrifying of villains, soft-spoken as he is most of the time. See it. Here’s the Internet Movie Base link:

If you’re not familiar with the great imdb, you’ll find almost everything you need to know about a movie, including large selections of external reviews and filming locations. There’s also the Broadway database, ibdb, where you can recall whom you saw play what part and when they did it:

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