4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Directed by Cristian Mungiu (R)

One friend helps another through an illegal abortion in communist Romania.

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“Nothing good happens in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” yet you won’t be able to turn away, said Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly. Romanian director Cristian Mungiu’s rivetingly real drama chronicles an illegal abortion performed in 1987 Bucharest during Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime. “This spare masterpiece” takes place in a single day, which turns out to be the longest and most excruciating 24 hours in the lives of college roommates Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) and Otilia (Anamaria Marinca). Gabita is pregnant and handicapped with fear, leaving the clear-headed, more pragmatic Otilia to prepare for the procedure. With a documentarian’s exactness, Mungiu artfully and unsentimentally portrays their personal crisis as a “microcosm of what it takes to survive in a beaten-down society.” His camera “doesn’t follow the action, it expresses consciousness itself,” said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. Mungiu’s subtle shifts of “fluidly moving camerawork, rigorous framing, and sustained long shots” leave the audience time to examine the images and contemplate the underlying story. Mungiu still believes in cinema and its storytelling power, said Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. He possesses an “almost old-fashioned faith that film can explore the most painful subjects, ask the deepest questions, deliver the most important meanings.” 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days takes on serious subjects and asks life’s big questions.

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