Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 322 - 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) directed by Christian Mungiu

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a horrifyingly powerful tale of an illegal abortion set in communist Romania in 1987. It is frighteningly realistic and matter of fact showing off not only the ugly side of the abortion debate but also of the cold harsh world it stems from. This is a repressed country where people do not have a choice and must go through the black market to get what they need, whether it is cigarettes, soap and even abortions. But this is not a pro or anti abortion movie. It does not take sides in the matter. It simply documents two people's journey to get what they feel they need. If anything it is an inditement to the ugly world they live in. However way you want to interpret it, it is deeply riveting.

What is notable about the film is that the main character is not pregnant character Gabita but her friend Otilia who does everything for her. Gabita is too scared, immature or incompetent to handle things on her own, so she begs Otilia to help her. Otilia raises the money, gets the hotel room that Gabita failed to secure, meets the doctor, pleads with the him when the job turns out to be more complicated than it is, and is required to do something so gut wrenching it might even be worse than the abortion itself. It is a true test of friendship. Whether or not Gabita is deserving of Otilia's loyalty is another matter, but she is there for her.

The black market doctor meets the two women in a hotel room where he carefully outlines what is to happen. He points out that this is not a simple job. It is dangerous and above all illegal and more complicated than Gabita initially led on. On the phone she said she was only two months pregnant. With just one touch of her stomach, he knows this is not the case. (Can you guess how far along she is?) This scene is meant to show Gabita's naivety and her desperation and also of the seriousness of the matter. It is a spellbinding scene that is simply three characters acting in front of one camera in a room. There is nothing fancy about the way this film is shot. There is just one camera and one shot per scene. There are no effects, no music or fancy editing. It may seem like a rudimentary and crude way to film a movie, but make no mistake about it, everything is precisely the way it should be from the camera movements to the lighting.

After the probe has been inserted all there is left to do is to wait. Otilia leaves the room for a bit to attend her boyfriend's mother's birthday party. It is an awkward scene where she must listen to people talk about trivial matters that neither she or the viewer cares about. Meanwhile in the back of our and her's mind is Gabita in the hotel room. The tension mounts to an almost unbearable state as we have to sit there and listen to these people talk. This is also when Otilia thinks about her relationship with her boyfriend and also her place in this repressed society. She can't get out of there fast enough.

When she returns to the hotel room, Gabita informs her that "it" is in the bathroom. She goes to it and crouches down on the floor. I almost want to turn away as she looks down. I'm praying for the camera not to pan down and I want to gag when it does. Otilia is given the task of disposing the fetus and so she carefully puts it into her purse and walks out. It is nerve wrecking.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a great film, but one I don't think I'll ever want to watch again.

Grade: A

No comments:

Post a Comment