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Alina and Voichita have been friends since their orphanage days. And they have been lovers since they became sexually mature. But despite their oath of mutual fidelity, Alina, who could not bear poverty any more, emigrated to Germany where she became a barmaid. Now she just could not take the estrangement from Voichita and today she is back to Romania with a view to taking Voichita along with her to Germany. The only trouble is that in the meantime her girlfriend has betrayed her in falling in love with... God! Voichita indeed now lives in a convent where she plans to make vows. The priest agrees, if somewhat reluctantly, to accommodate Alina before their (hypothetical) departure. He sees all too well that not only is the young woman materialistic but hostile and troublesome as well... Written by
I had only watched one other Romanian film before, and that was the abortion nightmare, "4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days," which was as stark and gritty as could be. Now this one, entitled "Beyond the Hills," also came with good recommendations. I was surprised to learn after watching that these two films were done by the same director, Cristian Mungiu.
"Beyond the Hills" is a strange film set in rural Romania, in the strict confines of an Orthodox monastery. It was about a nun Volchita and her old friend (maybe even her lover?) from the orphanage, Alina. Alina came over to Volchita's monastery for a visit, but her arrival turns their serene monastic existence into extreme turmoil. What is wrong with Alina? Is she epileptic? Is she psychotic? Is she possessed?
This movie is not really about Alina's nebulous condition rather than about the tense atmosphere director Cristian Mungiu creates for us the audience to immerse in. This film may seem to be Mungiu's exposition against the Orthodox church and its strict antiquated ways. However, the priest and the nuns were shown to be genuinely concerned about Alina despite her unpredictable disruptive ways.
This film has a thought-provoking concluding scene that speaks volumes about what the whole movie was about despite its simplicity. Overall, this movie was interesting as a sociological study, but like Mungiu's controversial first film, this is not for everybody.
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