Title: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Director: Cristian Mungiu
Starring: Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov
4 Months is the kind of film you’re really glad you watched, but need to be in the right mood for. A peel-yourself-off-the-seat-after-viewing affair. On saying that it’s a couple of hours really well spent; you’ll be forced to reconcile and contemplate your views on female friendship/ solidarity, communism/ 80’s eastern Europe, abortion, sex, misogyny, oppression, relationships and other such weighty subject matters. But 4 Months deals with these themes in a fascinating and patient, almost delicate, way.
Set in Romania in 1987, the plot revolves around two student flatmates, one of whom is trying to obtain a late-term illegal abortion. It’s excruciatingly slow moving with shots remaining on the subjects for several minutes, so that some scenes are nearly real-time. And the whole film takes place within one day. The grim, gritty docu-style reflects the grim and grey Romanian landscape of the time, although the scenes are character-driven rather than atmospheric urban panorama or arty meanderings. The painful pace reinforces the painful process that these two mates experience, and lets you sit with them while they move through their life with little hope, excitement or change. The gravity of the whole thing is relieved only because it seems so real; the subject matter seems so commonplace and almost mundane, even though it’s a huge and trying endeavour for the two young women. It is a close and steady study of something very normal, but something very trying. It’s full of suspense and replete with humanity, but the camera is simply observing and tells you everything by saying nothing at all. It’s intensely personal, and therefore wholly political.
4 Months will not tell you how to feel about abortion or communism, oppression or choice, but it will make you dig deep to a place that you know you should probably at some stage visit, and never do because it’s too difficult. It’s thought that a half a million women died from illegal abortions under Ceausescu’s dictatorship, when it was highly illegal, and 4 Months is at least some kind artistic legacy to their needless plights. And a really fantastic film.