4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) Poster

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Absolutely brilliant
Harry T. Yung11 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Rarely do we see a film so absorbing that offers no humour, no romance, no suspense (in the normal sense), little dramatic action and no challenge of controversial values (at least not explicitly). The latest Cannes Palm D'Or winner "4 months" is just such a one. You will not be "entertained" in the normal sense. Most will come out feeling depressed. But there is also a sense of elation in being privileged to a piece of art work that deserved to be described as nothing less than brilliant.

The plot is simple. In a time span of less than 24 hours, the audience witness and experience a chillingly realistic abortion. Without ceremony or preliminaries, the camera takes the audience right into a crummy apartment in 1987 Romania occupied by two students, where Gabita is packing to spend a few days in a hotel for an abortion while Otilia is helping her. However, this is really Otilia's story. In the next little while, we see her scrambling when the hotel booking falls through, having an argument with her boyfriend who wants her to come to his mother's birthday dinner in the evening and making initial contact with the man who will perform the abortion for her friend Gabita. The rest of the story takes place in the hotel where the abortion is performed and Otilia's boyfriend's place where she spends an hour to attend the birthday dinner.

Of the four characters, the boyfriend has been designed to be common and unimpressive. The man performing the abortion is no doubt a villain but comes across more as unscrupulously self-serving and utilitarian and rather than outright evil. It is in Gabita that we have an unusual type of "villain", one that you may end up detesting even more than Anton Chigurh in "No country for old men". In Gabita is the description "clueless" redefined – utmost irresponsibility, endless procrastination, lying for convenience (an illusion of an easy-way-out). All this doesn't really matter as you start to lose patience with and cares less and less for this character, until you see that as a result, what Otilia has to go through in unflinching loyalty to her friend refining the word "hero" (a word, incidentally, that doesn't need any and gender differentiation).

In today's Hollywood trend of film shooting, editing and cutting that leaves your head spinning and completely empty afterwards, the camera work of "4 months" is beautifully refreshing. At the start, there are some long shots covering physically moving scenes, giving you a realistic experience of being right there at the scene rather than watching at a distance. Wisely, these are not overused. There are also stationary shots reminiscent of Yasujiro Ozu. One particularly brilliant scene is at the dinner table where Otilia is positioned right at the centre of the frame, with her boyfriend and his parents beside her, as if you are one of the dinner guests looking across the dinner table. For full ten minutes the camera is completely stationary, as the animated conversion goes on around her and is sometimes directed at her eliciting brief, polite responses. With model minimalism, Anamaria Marinca conveys, pitch-perfect, Otilia's uneasiness in this less-than-desirable company, her growing anxiety thinking about her friend left alone in the hotel room waiting for the abortion device implanted by the "doctor" to take effect, the surfacing frustration with her relationship with her boyfriend and a whole range of layers of emotions – full ten minutes at the dead centre of an uncompromising camera. Just for these ten minutes, she should win an Oscar.

"4 month" does not have any background music (same as "No country for old men") and the life drama plays out naturally without any dramatization. Yet the palpable underlying tension makes you hold your breath. I don't recall a 90% full cinema ever being so quiet, particularly when there are long moments of complete silence on the screen, when you can hear a pin drop. The audience is so captivated that they hardly breath.

"4 months" does not preach. It is not a morality debate about abortion. What it shows mercilessly (to the audience, including the image of a jettisoned fetus at 4 months 3 weeks and 2 days) the brutal reality two young women faced in totalitarian Romania in the 1980s, in trying to get an illegal abortion as well as in daily life. One of the most deserved Cannes' winners in recent years.
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Less is sometimes better...
loco_7310 November 2007
A visceral and emotionally draining experience. Those are not typical superlatives one usually conjures while commenting on a movie, yet in this case I dare use such a characterization as a positive rendering of what I felt when watching this film.

The spartan and minimalist style of the movie only adds to its potency. Though many might find it jarring to sit through, I can only hope that people will have the patience and resolve to watch this brilliant example of movie making. If you invest your time and emotions in this one, you will not be disappointed.

The acting, camera work, cinematography are of the highest quality, especially given the budgetary restrictions and scarcity of available resources.This movie is yet more ample proof that one does not necessarily need a 200 million dollar budget to make a great film. Creativity and originality can add untold dimensions to any physical limitations and barriers.

All in all a great "little" movie about a forgotten slice of history, a little known place and, a time of horrifying brutality and oppression i.e. the so-called Golden Age (epoca de aur), Romania and Nicolae Ceausescu. This movie, "4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile/4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" is the first installment in a proposed trilogy entitled "Amintiri din epoca de aur/Tales From The Golden Age".

I'm looking forward to the next chapters...
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the end of the transition for Romanian cinema
dromasca24 December 2007
Cristian Mungiu's film is the most successful in what is called the Romanian Cinama New Wave, although it's not the very best in my opinion. I liked more 'The Death of Dante Lazarescu', and even 'California Dreamin' (Nesfarsit') had better chances from start. And yet '4-3-2' succeeded better than other because it vibrates different chords in the viewers souls and on different planes. Women will resonate with the story of the imposed tragedy at a personal and national level resulted from the anti-abortion policies in Communist Romania, and one cannot say it's only a pro-choice movie, it's a real indictment. If one is interested in recent European history he may see the results of what communist propaganda named the Golden Age, an apocalyptic landscape of cold, dark and loneliness. If you are Romanian and lived these times you may feel you returned in time and the end of the movie may seem the awakening from a recurring nightmare.

And if you are a fan of good cinema you will admire the virtuosity of a director who learned perfectly the lessons of Jim Jarmusch and DOGMA and transfered them in the East European space. You need the hand of a master to create those those long shots in which every detail is in place, camera, actors, lights and voices. I see from time to time older Romanian movies where I observe not that much the lack of technical means in the 70s or 80s, but more the lack of capacity of the directors to compensate this disadvantages with simplicity of concept and turn them into quality as other directors from less privileged schools of cinema have done. Well, the last films of directors like Mungiu or the late Nemescu I could see a jump ahead in quality of expression that takes many generations for other film schools.

There are many memorable scenes in this film. One of them describes a family dinner, where the principal character, a student from a lesser means family arrives invited by her boyfriend. It's his mother's birthday, and they have as guests two couples of friends from the local mid-upper class. The scene is a nine minute shot with fixed camera, focusing on four characters sited at the head of the table, with a few others voices being heard from out of the screen space. She is in the middle, and obliged to listen and participate, but she wants to be some other place, near her friend who just underwent an illegal abortion. Every minute may be fatal for the life of her friend. The dialog is not meaningless, it is a short novella on its own about the art of compromise necessary for survival in a dictatorship. And yet, she is there and is not there - all looks like a Da Vinci painting, with Jesus sited among the apostles, but already in a different spiritual reality. Magnificent to follow as its character has its own life, its like a concatenation of first plans one near the other.

In another memorable scene Otilia runs in the night to get rid of the aborted child. It's one of these long and cold nights into which Romania was plunged at these times because of electricity savings. She runs on the streets scared, scared not that much by the shades of the night but by the proof of the 'crime' she is carrying and which can incriminate her for many years of jail if she is caught. Best horror scene of the year in my view.

Anamaria Marinca is superb in the role of Otilia. No mannerism, no melodrama, no make-up - the actress is just living the character of a girl ready to sacrifice everything to help her naive and maybe a little dumb friend. It is by this humanity of the simple people that dictatorship can be survived at the human level the film seems to say.

'4-3-2' is a candidate for the best foreign film at the Oscars, but I am afraid it will not get the prize. The film starts slowly and needs patience to get the sense, and many jurors may not get over the first third. The interest for East-European cinema is decreasing, it's not such a new thing any longer, and Romanian cinema is little known out of Europe. Anyway, Oscar or not, this film is simply good, and it demonstrates that the Romanian cinema passed the period of transition and it's time for maturity. It's now even harder, as Romanian directors will need to find the inspiration to make films that do not look that much into the past but still can catch the interest of the local and international audiences. It will be interesting to follow.
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What would you do for a friend?
seawalker19 February 2008
Romania, 1987. Two years before the fall of the Ceauşescu regime, a student helps her friend to obtain an illegal abortion. "4 luni, 3 Saptamani Si 2 Zile" details the events of a single day in which both girls will face circumstances of growing despair and horror. A question is asked and answered: What would you do for a friend?

I don't think I can praise "4 luni, 3 Saptamani Si 2 Zile" highly enough. I thought that "4 luni, 3 Saptamani Si 2 Zile" was a great film, perfectly executed.

There are some particular words I would use to describe this film. Compelling, downbeat, tense, shocking, harrowing and graphic. The country of Romania itself is a character in this movie. A cold and unfriendly place. Practically everything appearing to be worn down, old and shabby. The people are tired, irritated and impatient. I think it is a snapshot of a kind of hell on Earth.

There are stunning performances by Anamaria Marinca (some people might remember how good she was a couple of years ago in "Sex Traffic" on Channel 4) and Laura Vasiliu as the two girls. (Check out the scene of Anamaria Marinca at a family birthday party. A masterclass of internalised acting and suppressed emotion. She is doing practically nothing, but her mind is elsewhere. You can see it in her eyes.) Also, a couple of words of praise for Vlad Ivanov as Mr. Bebe, the abortionist. His performance as Mr. Bebe is a calculated study of bland and indifferent evil. Quietly spoken, balding, middle aged in his comfortable jumper and comfortable shoes. Manipulative, advantage taking, awful and chilling. Really chilling.

However you line up on the subject of abortion, pro-choice or pro-life, you should see this film. One of the best of the year.

What would you do for a friend?
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As uncompromising as any film I have seen in recent memory
Howard Schumann14 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Friendship and support in our normal everyday life is a very valuable thing to have. In a repressive environment where one misstep can cause imprisonment or worse, it is often the only avenue for survival. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, is about the bond between two young Romanian students who are there for each in moments of crisis, in this case - an illegal abortion, carried out in stealth, where danger is an insidious presence at all times, a caution to those in our own country wishing to overturn Roe v. Wade. Reminiscent of the style of the Dardenne Brothers with its close-ups and hand-held camera, the film is mostly understated and key events happen off camera (with one glaring exception), yet it is a very demanding film, powerfully acted and totally convincing, as uncompromising as any film I have seen in recent memory.

Set in Romania in 1987 during the final days of the Ceausescu regime, 432 conveys a pervasive grayness that underscores the sterility of life in Eastern Europe at the time. If there was a bright and happy side to life in Romania in the late eighties, you will not find it here. For the first thirty minutes, preparations are being made for an unspecified event by two students in a college dormitory in Bucharest that looks like the interior of a hotel scheduled for demolition. One roommate Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) sends the other, Otilla (Anamaria Marinca), to procure items such as cigarettes, soaps, and beauty items and to borrow money from friends but we do not learn what the money is for. The two women are very different. Gabita is passive, almost helpless, while Otilla is more self assured and outgoing, though she is also circumspect in displaying her emotions.

Mingu does not show us the world in which the girls live or any of the circumstances that led to Gabita's drastic decision to have the abortion. It is just a given. When it is revealed that Gabita is pregnant and is seeking an abortion, it is the more aggressive Otilla who makes the arrangements. Trying to book a room at the hotels that were suggested, Otilla is thwarted by cold, bureaucratic clerks who act as if they just came from the hospital attending Mr. Lazarescu. Gabita's failure to confirm hotel reservations means that Otilla has to settle for a third hotel not on the list. When she meets with Mr. Bebe (Vlad Ivanov), the illegal abortionist, he is perturbed that she came instead of Gabita and even more distressed that neither of the two hotels he suggested were booked.

A scene outside a building in which Bebe scolds his elderly mother creates more anxiety for Otilla and the meeting at the hotel between the two women and the abortionist is replete with threats, bullying tactics, and demands for more money. When the sleazy abortionist discovers that Gabita is not two months pregnant as she had said but 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, he ups the ante. Cynically citing the risks he is taking that could result in a long prison term, Bebe only agrees to perform the abortion after both women reluctantly agree to have sex with him. Heightening the feeling of uneasiness, Otilla leaves Gabita alone in her hotel room propped up on two pillows unable to move, as she fulfills a promise to her boyfriend, Adi (Alex Potocean), to attend his mother's birthday party.

Otilla is sullen and uncommunicative and the conversation among family members goes on and on, making her feel more and more isolated. One relative criticizes her asking for a cigarette and goes into a speech about the failings of the younger generation as Otilla looks for a reason to leave. As the film winds to a gripping conclusion, the almost unbearable tension had many in the sold out audience stirring uncomfortably in their seats. Though 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days depicts the oppressive nature of the social system and its laws, it is not a polemic against Communism or illegal abortions, but is more about the dignity of two women, friends who are willing to take risks and sacrifice for each other without expectation of reward or even thanks.
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A Communist Country on the Eve of Freedom
d_dobrev618 February 2008
I have read many reviews about this particular movie but I had the chance to watch it only yesterday. Since I am a citizen of a neighboring ex-communist country - Bulgaria - I am well familiar with the essence of the communist regimes at the end of their existence. The were not so cruel like in the 50-s and the 60-s, it was more a farce than a real, normal life and society. Everybody, except the old "loyal" and thickheaded communists, had lost their faith in the "bright future" long ago, but also everybody pretended to be loyal to the party-state for pure selfish reasons. It is shown very well in the movie where, in this "the best of all possible societies", the ordinary people make their shopping mainly at the black market, where they have to do a simple medical procedure illegally, and at the cost of fear and humiliation. This atmosphere becomes grimmer with the dirty streets and the old jalopies, with the rude receptionists and the corrupt people all over the city, with the stupid indifference of the boy's parents and their friends - the so called "elite" in this eliteless society.

I am sure the movie will not be properly understood by the citizens of the free countries who had only heard about communism but had never experienced it. Nevertheless it is worth seeing and I am very glad that such films, together with "The Lives of Others" (Das Leben Der Anderen), have won prestige international awards.
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A path to maturity
Cosmin Chereches20 September 2007
Usually, movies are about entertainment, or about art, or simply they just have something to say. This is exactly the case with "4,3,2". Going beyond exceptional cinematography, this is a movie about serious problems, in a serious approach. It's about those extraordinary events in our every day life. The cast and all the effort put into making it add up to the success of presenting a story about real life with fictional means. It's not a movie about women, nor about men, it doesn't concern only women, or only men, it's about struggle and sacrifice, without being pathetic or exaggerated. You, or me, or the one next to you, could face the same problems and we each deal with them in our own way. The winning point of the film is that it's not judgemental about these choices, but only alarming, or purely descriptive.

Great acting, great directing, great filming, great writing and a great story make this film well worthy of those Palmes D'Or. It's a great achievement for cinematography in general, not only the Romanian one in particular. But for a more detailed perspective, just go see the movie!
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Amazing & intelligent film
Jo Kidsada14 September 2007
I was fortunate to see this film during the TIFF last week. With Palm d'Or behind the title, my expectation was high and I was amazingly satisfied.

As an audience in TIFF, we also got to have a Q&A session with Cristian, the director and it was apparent to me that he is a very intelligent man. Everything that was in the movie was well thought and planned. There is no accidents about this movie.

There are quite a few unclear scenes. However after, the director answered a few questions for the audience and I got to understand his point of view. It was clear to me what he was trying to show us. There is no wasted scenes or filler during the whole show.

There is a particular scene where many don't understand why it is so long and meaningless. Many viewers got frustrated, irritated and restless after a while. But that is exactly what the director wants us to feel. He plays with his audience through his film. What a brilliant idea ! For those who has seen it, will understand. Your feeling is exactly what Otilia was feelings.

This is not an anti-abortion movie as the director said. There is no political statement. It is just a daily life of a few Romanians during the period and you can feel it through this movie.

For all other foreign film fan, this is an absolute must see for this year.
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Splendid performances in a taut, harrowing film
Michael Fargo2 February 2008
Chritian Mungiu delivers one of the finer suspense films in the past few years. Set in Ceausescu's grim murderous police state, I was reminded of Polanski's shocker "Repulsion" albeit without the Gothic thrills. It's a loaded subject matter of abortion that sets the scene, but we aren't asked to take sides in someones polemic. The nightmare that unfolds is probably played out often, and that's the movie's genius. We identify quickly with the dilemma even though the bureaucratic maze the characters have to bribe and finagle there way through is in extreme.

The smallest details are accurate and riveting, from the possibly dire consequences of not paying a bus fare to eavesdropping on a conversation between a mother and her son that's suddenly interrupted by the sound of gun shot, the protagonist here (and what a courageous beauty she turns out to be) has nerves of steel that any action hero would envy.

It's our loss that this may be the only time we get to see Anamarie Marinca perform. She's nearly in every shot in the film and her unsteady conviction to her friend who is seeking an abortion is mesmerizing to watch. Her foil, Laura Vasiliu, is maddeningly dense and just as effective as the girl who's so lost in her dilemma that you can't tell if her judgment is impaired by her predicament or she's simple-minded. It's a touching performance that's also infuriating because of the dangers she sets in motion all around her.

The mise en scene here is one of a master. Midway through the film, there's a stunning set piece where Marinca and her boyfriend are full screen at a party, the camera never moves and they don't speak a word while adults chatter all around them while only occasionally hands enter the frame. The tension that results is almost unbearable when a telephone rings off in the distance, and Marinca is unable to move to find out if it's a desperate call for help...or simply someone calling to wish Happy Birthday.

There are many, many such fine moments in this movie. It shows that horror isn't necessarily the boogie man or a creature from outer space. It can be of our own making, both individually and by the government that rules us.
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Not a film about abortion!
Blue I7 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
just got back from seeing this at a local art-house theater in rome, italy. it's showing as part of the "cannes in rome" week, a great way to stay in touch without the mess of the festival itself.

anyway, i was impressed, struck if you will, by the crudity of the cinematography of the film at first. then, more and more, it became clear to me that this rough and unpleasant hue was just what the story, the place and the moment in history needed.

romania is not a real place to most people in the world, at best a place we have seen some terrible news images of, related to the darkness of egomaniacal dictatorship and it's eventual overthrow in our generations lifetime (sorry teens, not you for the most part). interestingly enough, probably for budgetary reasons, the film doesn't include any kind of discernible treatment or view of a town/city or it's inhabitants at all. yet, despite the absence of a fuller description of place and time, the filmmakers are able to convey what such a regime has produced on many levels ranging from the personal-moral to the societal-cultural.

from the starkness of the cinematographer's visual treatment; ugly, neon greens fading to grey blacks, to the hardness of the physical environment; cold, wet grey parking lots, garishly neon lit hotel lounges, the director and his team paint a synthetic picture of a no-joy, no-hope, no-way-to-think-about-morals world.

this setup is perfectly complimented by the film's matter of fact and intentionally simple but very controlled story telling style. not for a minute does the viewer get invited to participate in any hypothetical or practical moral choice concerning life or abortion, but, at least for those that come with an open heart and mind, find themselves drawn into the abyss of the story's protagonist, otila (Anamaria Marinca), an onlooker like ourselves, alas a participant to the consequences of a variety of her friends personal choices. nonetheless, this abyss doesn't create a huge, melodramatic, external response in her, and i credit the film for giving us a heroine, who, despite being neither truly likable nor morally upright, is still a fine example of a strong human being, albeit or perhaps precisely because she was produced (in part) by a cold regime, it's historic and cultural background and it's subsequent society.

i cannot pretend to say with any authority that the spirit i captured in this film is authentically romanian, but i perceived it as such. otila's decisive but understated way of putting her counterparts - Gabita, Dr. Bebe, (how cruel a name) and her own boyfriend - in place with a few sharp words, perfectly fits the image i have made over the years of the romanians (and other former soviet controlled peoples) i have met personally.

so, filmboy39 et al, what's this movie about? to me certainly not just about abortion. yes, the baby dies (call it fetus if you must), yet i wasn't left with that as my main thought exiting the theater or discussing it afterward with my friends. personally i'd likely have preferred almodovar's treatment of a strong "huwoman", but this work speaks of strength and overcoming impossibilities in an inhuman world, a theme that surely resounds in most, certainly in aldomovar. hence, i credit Cristian Mungiu for his successful attempt of going, not beyond the morals of this issue, but on a road less traveled, into a sharing of the what brings people to such choices despite clearly knowing and wanting better. anybody read the story of the logger who cut off his own leg to survive? happens everyday!
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Not perfect but brilliant
kjewitt14 January 2008
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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Brutal but brilliant film-making.
come2whereimfrom13 January 2008
Winner of last years Palme d'Or this Romanian film set in the eighties and is a cross between Richard Linklater's 2001 film 'Tape', in that the majority of the action takes place in one room between three central characters and Mike Leigh's 2004 film 'Vera Drake' in that its central theme is illegal abortion. It is a film about the human condition, trust, betrayal, the extremes people have to go to sometimes and the consequences that follow certain actions. It has two great performances from the college roommates Otilia and Gabita from their introduction to us as they make plans for a trip through to the grizzly outcome that concludes the film. The setting is grim and the bleached out film stock adds to the jittery camera work and gives an uneasy feeling throughout, instantly you are transported to a time where people barter with tic tacs, cigarettes and powdered milk and the promise of sugar is a dream to many and a reality to only a few. Gabita's predicament and subsequent journey both physically and mentally are what drives the film but its shown mainly through the eyes of her friend and roommate Otilia who as well as making and carrying out the arrangements has to make some startling sacrifices and ones that she will have memory of forever, as will you the audience long after the film has finished. Although not an easy watch and considering the subject matter not something you can say you 'enjoyed' it is none the less a brilliant piece of film-making, subtle and emotive with very real character studies. A brutal in your face look at a bleak time in history, how a leader destroyed the economy of a country and what that did to everyday life and a reminder of how far behind the rest of us Eastern Europe was before the fall of the Iron curtain and particularly Romania before the Revolution of 1989.
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Probably best Romanian movie
ovidjus29 May 2007
This is a movie from the highest rated young Romanian director who won highest appreciation from the Cannes festival (Golden Palm) in 2007. It's a movie that will make you feel like a human being again and after seeing it you will surely think much better about Romanian cinematography. The movie is a drama of a human being that is oppressed by the communist regime in Romania, one of the most criminal regimes of this century.In the last years of the Romanian communism, the dictator's wife "Elena Ceausescu" made it clear for everyone that abortion is no longer permitted and that had a lot of implications later on. Although the movie is not about the regime itself but about the character and her personal drama. 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days is supposedly the beginning of a series of films Mungiu is hoping to make called The Golden Age, each about life in Communist Romania. I hope he's successful; if this film is an example of the kind of rough-hew humanity and blunt realism we can expect in future films, I'd definitely seek them out. As it is, 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days moved me and challenged me, made me feel and made me think, demonstrated the personal and political challenges of a heartbreaking choice that, in many ways, is no choice at all-- and that's a rare enough achievement, and one worthy of seeking out.This movie is a work of art
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Not for the feint of heart
lastliberal12 June 2008
I cannot recall seeing any other Romanian film, but if this is what we have to look forward to from writer/director Cristian Mungiu, then we will have some great pieces of art coming from that country.

I will not pretend to have any idea of what a woman (Laura Vasiliu) goes through in having an abortion, but I have a better idea after watching this film about a woman going through a "back alley" procedure.

It is not just about abortion. It is also a strong and powerful statement of friendship and what it truly means. There is no way that Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) is a "fair weather" friend. She experienced the same pain as her friend. She was there for her.

Watching this, one can only realize the importance of being there for all women. As the forces of evil want to return us back to pre-Roe days, just like Communist Romania, we have to be eternally vigilant lest these procedures once again become common in our country and women are mistreated as they are in this film.

This is the most powerful film I have ever seen. It will wrench your gut and really cause you to experience some emotions that you'd really not wish to experience.

Strongly recommended!
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Filmmaker Christian Munglu doesn't tell us what to say, he gives us the tools to have something to say.
theconservativeliberal7 February 2008
This movie has been gaining a lot of momentum internationally. I think its exclusion from the 2008 Academy Awards has almost been a bigger marketing boost than a nomination would have gained. The transparent sterility of its title 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is the first clue to the interesting reception it has had.

The name Stanley Kubrick is thrown around way too often. Whenever someone does something even vaguely like the handwriting on the walls of the Shining it's dubbed as Kubrick's vision or something equally stupid. 2007's "Kubrick" has been PT Anderson for There Will Be Blood. Whenever I read it in a review I feel as if Kubrick is the only other director's name the critic knows so he throws it in a few times with a copy-paste on the computer.

With that being established I think to compare one specific element of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days to some of Stanley Kubrick's movies is warranted and worthwhile. Kubrick's films are very precise. They are filmed and edited in a way that creates an incredibly crafted world, controlling the viewer every step of the way. I find specific control more obvious in Kubrick's movies- 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket are the most resonant. Nothing is an accident. Or more importantly nothing seems an accident.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days feels equally as unflinching in its control. In its sparse, very cold direction it takes a firm grip of whoever is watching and manipulates them into just how they are meant to feel. Because of the film's dark subject matter, and the harsh communist- life backdrop, this makes it very hard to watch. Director Cristian Mungiu knows what he is doing to his audience.

There is an extended scene in the film that has become famous for frustrating its audience. I've read few user group comments as well as professional reviews about the film, specifically mentioning this particular scene, that have taken to it with quite a bit of hostility. The key character Otilia has dinner with her boyfriend's family and their friends. The conversation is idle, and without explaining details, the scene ends and the film continues along. i have read that people have become bored, become angry, almost outraged. Some found it to be frustrating in its displacement, both from the perspective of a scene from the movie and of a character within in. Some found it fascinating- and I am in that camp. I mentioned Kubrick's name because the style of his intense control in this scene becomes almost brutal. While Otilia simply sits for 10 minutes, we are sat down. Munglu has us feeding out of his hand. After coming of out the film, I felt like a child being guided through some kind of wet abandoned street. This was the only rest stop along the way,

While having such a firm grip, the film is careful not to be restrictive in its theme and philosophy. There is much to talk about, and debate over. It doesn't tell us what to think. Its primary subject matter is abortion, and telling its audience which side of the camp to sit would have been received terribly. The meticulous precision of Christian Munglu doesn't show us what to say, it gives us the tools to have something to say.

There is a lot to say about 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. It is a very rich film and does not simply tell the story of abortion. I've focused on how beautifully purposeful each frame of this film so hopefully anyone who watches it to take it in accordingly. And take from there the issue or theme that resonates with them and a platform to work from.
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Difficult to watch, but impossible to ignore
Getafilm10 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"Unflinching" is the best word I can use to described 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, one of the most disturbing movies in recent memory - and one of the best of 2007. I can only recommend it, however, with the disclaimer that it belongs in the small (but growing) group of recent films with scenes that sear your memory - and not in a good way. The Passion of the Christ, Cache, and Eastern Promises come to mind as well. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is not pro-choice or pro-life, it's just there - raw, real, and right in your face. We intimately experience the horrific measures that women go through when seeking illegal abortions, and we intimately witness the horrors of abortion itself. I haven't seen any of Cristian Mungiu's other movies, but I was very, very impressed with this. It's been a few days and I still don't know if I can call it "good" or say that I "liked" it - that would send a strange message. It's masterfully done and has given me some new insights about stirring subjects - certainly abortion, but also communism, friendship, and Romanian culture. And new insights, I should emphasize, are why I go to the movies in the first place.
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It is not a movie for everyone but this is a challenging and fascinating film
Argemaluco6 December 2007
4 Months,3 Weeks and 2 Days is not a movie for everyone.It can be very strong for a sensible person.But,this is a challenging and fascinating movie.I said this movie is not for everyone because it has a very disturbing scenes.But,that scene is completely justified and the thing I most appreciated on them was the realism it shows.A very strong realism that other movies do not show.So,this is also a brave movie.This film has a perfect creation of atmosphere and it made me feel I was inside that scenes.The performances are phenomenal.They are so natural that the actors do not seem to be acting.4 Months,3 Weeks and 2 Days is a spectacular film which is brave,fascinating and a challenge to the spectator.One of the best films of 2007.
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Abortion :"1987 Romanian Style..."
screenwriter-143 November 2007
Another powerful film from Romania, FOUR MONTHS, THREE WEEKS, TWO DAYS, from Cristian Mungiu with tremendous performances from Ana Maria Marinca as Otilia and the lovely Laura Vasiliu, playing 'Gabita', in a story of abortion and the effect on family and friendship. As in 1208:EAST OF BUCHAREST, the ability to look into Romania and visit with characters that depict the time of Romania in 1987 who deal with oppression in so many ways in their lives, is a film you will not ever forget. No wonder this jewel of a film won Cannes' Palme D'Or 2007.

The film belongs to Ana Maria Marinca as her character Otilia commands the screen in scenes which drive the story forward and enforce the horror of not only abortion, but much more. The camera work is really superb in external night shots that follow Otilia on her journey of horror. And the last scene is one to remember. I hope that this film will be honored in more festivals and that its theatrical release in the USA will bring many kudos to this excellent story and film.
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It never resonated with me
estebangonzalez1031 July 2013
"Once we start, there's no turning back."

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a Romanian film directed by Cristian Mungiu which won the Palm D'Or in the Cannes Film Festival in 2007 confirming the resurgence of the New Wave of Romanian Cinema. Other Romanian films that have been a part of this movement include 12:08 East of Bucharest, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, and Tales from the Golden Age. I'm on the minority here when I say that I didn't enjoy this film because the film has won several important awards and has been considered a masterpiece by most critics. As much as I wanted to enjoy this film, I have to be honest and say I felt it was a dull and boring movie. I tend to enjoy these character driven dramas, but I really never felt connected with the characters here and never felt the suspense that most people felt when they watched this. There were a few enjoyable moments and some strong performances, but the plot was simple and I never was drawn into the story. Despite the great camera work and the excellent craft, I never was attracted to this film or cared for the resolution. I'm sure it depicts perfectly the era when Romania was under Ceausescu's communist regime, but having seen so many foreign films focusing on social issues I didn't think there was anything special that stood out here, but I'm probably wrong because everyone else seemed to have loved this film.

The film takes place during the final years of Ceausescu's communist regime in Rumania and it centers on a college student named Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) as she begins to make plans in order to help her roommate, Gabita (Laura Vasliu), have an abortion. We don't really find out about the abortion until 30 minutes into the film, but the trailers take away the suspense. The communist regime doesn't allow birth control nor abortion, so they have to do things quietly and secretly. Otilia arranges to book a reservation at a hotel and picks up a doctor who has offered his service, although it won't be free and it will cost them a little more than money. His name is Bebe (Vlad Ivanov) and he takes advantage of Gabita's desperation to have the abortion and her friend's willingness to help. Everything has to be done quietly in the hotel room because if they are caught they can end up in jail, but Otilia also has to deal with her boyfriend Adi (Alex Potocean) as she has promised to visit him for his mom's birthday. There are a lot of things at stake here, but Otilia is determined to help out her friend.

One of the main issues I had with the film was that I never believed the friendship between Otilia and Gabita was strong enough for her to go through such extreme measures in order to help her. They seemed pretty distant and I never understood why she was willing to help. I have my theories, but the film is purposefully ambiguous. It is slow paced and nothing really happens. I don't have an issue with this because in films like A Separation it still worked for me because I connected with the characters. Mungiu portrays the era really well and never takes sides on the pro abortion or pro life issue, rather focusing on the dangers of the oppressive regime. It is a very realistic and dark film and Marinca gives a strong performance as the lead character. The best part of the film however was the scene where Ivanov's character manipulates the girls in the hotel room. He was great in that scene. I'm disappointed that I never got to appreciate the film as much as everyone else did, but there is no denying that Mungiu directed a memorable film.
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Rich in details
hanzy_boy4 March 2008
I'm in awe with 'realist' films, especially the one that actually works such as this one. In the climax track shot of walking through the city at night, how do they stage all the noise, the dog, the cars, the everything? It's crazy that i'm super impressed by how organic and realistic it is. Which is odd, because usually i go to movies to see how clever a filmmaker can be with twisting reality. But this was clearly magic to have been able to present a simple act (walking) in a simple composition (face dead center), with all of the familiar elements of nighttime in the city, and brought it all together to heighten the experience of this girl carrying what it seems like, all the worry in the world. It brought me back an almost childish/immediate feeling of being afraid walking alone at night, but of course compared to film, i've never walked alone at night with that much at stake.

But this is where the movie is most successful, the film presents you with people living in a type of harsh system that i can't imagine here living in the states. But the feelings and emotions that are portrayed are universal, the feeling of being young and afraid, feeling of sneaking behind the law, risking something for your friend , feeling of regret. And in this film the moral compass is clear, they know the system is unjust and they do things out of love and care for one another.

But for us here in the states, where government and law has seeped itself into everything, where we don't sometimes realized our own systematic oppression, how much of our sense of right/wrong is driven by government and the law? how much of it is actually driven by love and passion for real people?
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at its best its a stark, haunting look at a complex issue without much sentimentality
MisterWhiplash11 February 2008
The most recent Palm D'Or winner was, at first, a little perplexing to me, and had a feeling of it slightly throughout its near two-hour running time. It starts off looking like a movie about nothing (and not the interesting awesome kind of nothing that is about something), with a woman going about some busy business is a dorm, and meeting and talking with her boyfriend. Then it segues into a story of her attempts to help out her friend procure an illegal abortion in a hotel room under some harsh circumstances (i.e. the girl is timid and uneasy in her ignorance, the man performing it is cold and cruel and a professional pig, the general fear and loathing of the situation). But Mingiu's style is something that took me totally off my guard, and I wasn't sure for the better.

The film contends with the likes of Woyzek of having a ridiculous among of long-takes (and long as in ten-minute length, the variety that would've been impossible decades ago), with these characters in a bind of usually holding back emotions under these complex set of circumstances, where the fear of getting caught goes hand in hand with the problems of guilt in a society that shouldn't have that instilled in people in the first place. I even though once or twice "what's all the hoopla about with this movie?" But since I saw it yesterday, the film hasn't left my mind, and considering the little problems I still have with it (mostly involving one or two scenes that, for all intents and purposes, *do* overrun their length of a take), it's much more of a remarkable film that I thought right after seeing it. It's a lot like if Bresson shot a home movie set in Romania in Communist era times of dread, where a character like the lead Otilia (Anamaria Minca) is so restrained we wonder if she'll suddenly burst at the seams at any moment. Once or twice she and the perpetually quiet and insipid character Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) break down in their emotion, but it's all mostly unsentimental in portrayal.

So, perhaps, think L'Infant, also a recent Golden Palm winner, only with a stronger and much more unforgiving message at the core of an abortion: it's never easy for anybody, on any side, least of all for the fetus dumped away in some dark room or other, away from the dogs that could tear it to pieces, and as something that will be at worst a skeleton in the closet. But the style of the picture is most striking because of how it tries to be somehow immediate and detached; we're caught without a cut at times, like someone is (carefully, not Cloverfield) holding the camera, getting down every little gesture, every little eye movement, and not with a cutaway or close-up. Lighting is also minimal or for the basics, like when we're at the dinner table with her boyfriend's family, or especially at dark when she's walking around in a daze. It's a challenging perspective that, dare I say it amongst all who love the film so, veers on pretension.

But as I said, the power to stay with me hasn't diminished, and like any powerful piece of European cinema that tries to provoke through suggestion, through subtext, and through a precise, cruel naturalistic setting, it doesn't go away very easily. 8.5/10
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so so title, great film
chris miller10 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
it took a while to get here and it's got kind of a dumb title, but it's a great film. the film starts with a shot of two goldfish in a bowl and you know right away that it's going to be a look inside the world of two people. this first shot, incidentally, is the key to understanding the last shot which is pulled off quite well. the film follows two roommates as they go about getting an abortion for one of them. you don't know right away that this is what they're setting out to do, but the hints are there and you'll suspect this is their goal before it's explicitly revealed. it's shot in a very slow cinema verite style to accentuate the ordeal the two women go through in accomplishing their task. there aren't any unnecessary cuts and a few of the scenes last 5-10 minutes without any break. one of my favorites occurs at one of the girls' boyfriend's house where his mom is celebrating her 48th birthday. the scene shows the cultural climate of Romania as well as highlighting the differences between the girl and her boyfriend. mungiu isn't afraid to show anything in the film. he doesn't shy away from topics and images that most media avoid or talk around. he explores every facet of getting an illegal abortion (and more) - the procedure itself, the payment, what to do with the fetus afterwards, etc. - with equal aplomb and honesty. it's a fascinating film with some admittedly slow parts, but it's worth slogging through the first 20 minutes to get to know the characters and experience what they experience. one of the best new films i've seen in a while. B+.
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Quite brilliant!
vogonify26 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is an exceptional achievement. Even though the subject is potent enough for the director to make a good film, it is the way he handles this tricky subject is what is so pleasing. There couldn't have been a better film to start off my Romanian film-watching. Spectacular and grand will not be adjectives reserved for this, maybe not even breath-taking. But it is purposeful and remarkably convincing as a social comment. The acting had to be mandatorily inch-perfect, and it is. There are no glossing-over unnecessary trivia, and unlike the rude quack hired by the two girls, this film delivers. I read somewhere that Death of Dr. Lazarescu and East of Bucharest are better than this. If they are, then they must be some films.
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Back to the golden age...of the cinema!
cogitocata19 September 2007
Seeing 4 3 2 I had the feeling that I was watching a classic from the golden age of the cinema. This is somehow ironic, because this movie is actually about the so called golden age of Rmania. This age was hardly golden, though. Anyway, I didn't see this movie as a movie about communism. For me, it was a display of the multifaceted human drama, from a common perspective. This movie is all about perspective. Camera angle, perspective, focusing, they all have something to say. And they are doing a great job in saying it. A much better job than all the special effects that we are blown away by in most modern films. Romanian film makers, maybe because they are poor, are forced to make art because they can't afford special effects. They make art as Hithcock and Bergman did. I will say no more about this film, except, GO SEE IT! But first, to really enjoy it, start learning romanian !
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What is there to add?...
Pasky26 January 2008
What can you add to all the (good) things that have been said about this film? It grabs you progressively by the throat and hardly ever lets you go, until the end. It's like a punch in the face, and it makes you think: What would you have done, in such a case? And although it's very dark, it's still very human. It's not a 'black/white' 'Good/Evil' film. Just a film that shows you how human beings are, sometimes, at their worst, but also at their best. It's just about life, basically without any 'make-up'. I've highly recommended it to all of my friends who will 'get it', but not to the people who might only 'sort of' like it, with a lot of 'buts' that I wouldn't be able to hear. Either you love it, or you hate it. Period. I loved it.
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