Cristian Mungiu, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days": The Great Moment of Romanian Cinema By Pablo O. Scholz

in 60th Cannes Film Festival

by Pablo Scholz

The young women prepare themselves for whom the audience we do not know what is. They are in a dormitory of a University, in a small Romanian town, and Gabita requests aid to Otilia. The blonde has her own subjects and problems to take care of: a fiancé plaintiff, an affection necessity, a dark present that she wishes to change by a more limpid horizon. And everything is sifted by the last days of the Communism in Rumania , which makes what is that more difficult.

Perhaps we could say that 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (4 luni, 3 saptamini si 2 zile), the winner of the Palme d’Or and the FIPRESCI Award, is a film on abortion that turns out to diminish the much more generalized vision that Cristian Mungiu offers on how the harassment and the oppression in the days of Nicolae Ceausescu affected the lives of the young people of that generation. That which stays hidden, that of which it is not spoken – by fear, by a moral question, principles or simply because he is uncomfortable – it is expressed by Mungiu with a naturalness that does not look to hurt, but it does. It does not want to generate rejection, and it is able to jeopardize to us in the misfortune of its protagonists. It brings a shock as it corresponds.

The camera often stays static, like simply reflecting the documentary style what happens within those four walls of the room of the hotel in which that clandestine abortion is perhaps made. The ominous presence of Mr. Baby and the reasons why the women will have to cross to finish that nightmare are handled masterfully, a wisdom of which the director seems to be less uncertain when choosing to show something, in a single shot. It is painful, very difficult to maintain the glance on her. Was it necessary, the subtlety with which it was bearing the previous moments in the interruption of the pregnancy, to be cut off in such a steep way? It is a plane – a shot that will be able to change the perception of the spectator in what remains of the projection.

What we catch from 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is that it does not reside in which it changes, the parameters of the accomplishment. It does not have a novel narration, but it is what it transmits. The surprise that it generates is the responsibility of the value, the fierceness that appears in the pores of each one of its shots.

Mungiu knows that he has in hand a non-uniform and controversial subject, because to decide to clear the life – of a child to be born, an adult, really, a human being – it is a debate always opened and never absolutely solved. But so opened it is to the confrontation of the good and bad like of the two generations in the house of the fiancé of Otilia.

The tension goes in crescendo, and asphyxiating the few hopes of which everything has an up, well, a resolution. The performances of Anamaria Marinca – who we will soon see in Youth Without Youth, the first film from Francis Ford Coppola in ten years — interpreting to Otilia, Laura Vasiliu (Gabita) and particular Vlad Ivanov, like that unfortunate, terrible mask synonymous of the worse thing of the power than it is held without contemplations like the pro-abortionist, turns into an even more realistic film.

Cristian Mungiu not yet has reached forty years, and is already the owner of a surprising talent and a narrative capacity. It is not that the new school of film directors that comes from Romania is giving maturation samples and it is not a mere question of style. Rumania is becoming the new coil, loved, the favorite cinema of this festival. Two years ago it surprised with The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Moartea domnului Lazarescu) by Cristi Puiu, awarded in A Certain Regard; and last year it went to 12:08 East of Bucharest (A fost sau n-a fost), by Corneliu Porumboiu.

In a competition that can well boast of being at the highest level, albeit with some bumps, the film by Mungiu is etched quickly into the best things that the program has to offer.