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Romania, 1987, the brutal Ceausescu communist regime is in place; birth control is illegal and abortion is a crime punishable by death. Gabita (Laura Vasliu) is almost five months into an unwanted pregnancy and in meek desperation turns to her friend and roommate, Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) for help in organizing an illegal termination. Unfortunate circumstances force the two women to use a male abortionist, Bebe (Vlad Ivanor), who, in addition to an absurd amount of money, also demands sex with both women as payment. The bleakness of the storyline expresses a dark socio-political critique in the twilight years of a repressive dictatorship. Written by
The story is a very simple one. It's 1987 in Romania and abortion is illegal. Pregnant student Gabita and her roommate Otilia check into a cheap hotel where a backstreet abortionist called Bebe is going to deal with Gabita's problem. Under Romanian law, the degree of illegality depends on how long Gabita has been pregnant: on this subject, as on most others, she is worryingly vague. Very cleverly, the writer makes Otilia, the more resourceful of the girls, the protagonist. Otilia needs all her courage to deal with the suspicious hotel staff, to meet Bebe's demands, to evade the police and jail. The obvious words to use are spare, direct, realistic. The suspense generated is astonishing. The question of whether abortion is right or wrong is irrelevant to the psychology of the film - all that matters is that it is dangerous. I have great sympathy for all those Romanians who have written comments on this site, complaining about the portrayal of their beloved country. However, I believe that this film reflects well on Romania today. It's certainly a much more sophisticated and honest film than Vera Drake, which was hideously sentimental.
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