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4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Palme D'Or ~ Cannes Film Festival

Pitch perfect and brilliantly acted, 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days is a stunning achievement, helmed with a purity and honesty that captures not just the illegal abortion story at its core but the constant, unremarked negotiations necessary for survival in the final days of the Soviet bloc. Showcasing all the elements of new Romanian cinema – long takes, controlled camera and an astonishing ear for natural dialogue – Cristian Mungiu’s masterly film is a beautifully textured story. At a college dorm in 1987, roommates Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) and Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) go over the necessities for the coming day. Though it’s not yet clear what’s making her almost paralytically nervous, Gabita remains in the room while the pragmatic Otilia buys, barters and collects soap, cigarettes, money, etc. from schoolfriends. From the dorm Otilia heads to meet Mr. Bebe (Vlad Ivanov), a stone-faced illegal abortionist who’s not pleased that his precise instructions have not been met. Bebe is a bully, using criticism as a way of overcoming any resistance. Discovering that Gabita is further along in her pregnancy than she claimed, he exacts a high price before he’ll proceed. Obviously, this is not a Vera Drake knock-off, though there is more than a superficial similarity between Mike Leigh’s and Mungiu’s intense concentration on character. Foremost among the many revelations is Marinca’s stellar turn as Otilia. It’s not just the way she transforms scripted dialogue into real-speak (a quality shared by the rest of the stellar cast), but her ability to convey all her inner struggles in silence. Vasiliu is equally fine, a frightened young woman desperate to end her ordeal. Just as he proved with Mr. Lazarescu, director of photography Mutu achieves miraculous effects with his observational camera, capturing all the necessities without ever feeling voyeuristic. His spaces, even when outside, remain claustrophobic – doors never provide escape, and night, with its sudden, unknown sounds, is especially menacing. Colours are all muted cement tones, capturing the crushing ugliness of life in the Eastern bloc. – Jay Weissenberg, Variety
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Directed by: 
Cristian Mungiu
Running Time: 
Romanian and English
Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov and Alexandru Potocean
Screenplay by: 
Cristian Mungiu

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