Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Director – Cristian Mungiu

Writer – Cristian Mungiu

Starring – Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov, Alexandra Potocean


Winner of 2007’s prestigious Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival, 4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 Days has a lot to live up to. Up against such films as a personal favourite of last year, Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, and one of the best films of last year, David Fincher’s Zodiac, this film had some tough competition. But as much as I loved some of the other films in the running at Cannes I simply have to concur with the decision to give 4 Months one of the most respectable awards in the film world.

The film follows two university friends, Otilia and Gabita, in Romania in 1987. A few months after Gabita falls pregnant the two friends arrange a meeting with Mr Bebe, in a hotel, for him to perform an illegal abortion.

To say the subject matter and content of this film is going to cause some controversy is a bit of an understatement. Those who are “pro-life” are inevitably going to be in an uproar about the central plot of the film and thus get it even more attention than it otherwise would. After the first few showings of 4 Months it was known as “the Romanian abortion movie” but once more people got a chance to see it and word of mouth got around people soon realised, as I myself do now, that this film is so much more than that. Abortion may be the thing that is central to the story but there is so much else to think about and envelope yourself in that at times you almost forget about that.

What makes 4 Months work as well as it does is the sense of rare realism achieved, due to many contributing factors. First of all the whole film is set literally within the timeline of a single night which gives it it’s first dose of immediacy. Secondly the director often uses the handheld camera technique we have seen in quite a few films as of late but he uses it in such a fresh and unique way that it almost seems as refreshingly different as it did when we first saw the technique. Many of the interior, dialogue driven scenes (which most of the film is) is shot in a very static manner, allowing for everything within the scenes to take president over the viewer’s watching of the film. And in a strictly opposite fashion the scenes of someone walking or when a scene becomes erratic in any way the camera will act in the same manner. Director Cristian Mungiu uses the shaky-cam technique extremely well to give us the sense that we are right there “in the moment” with the characters.

Another equally major reason why 4 Months achieves its quality is the three central performances, in particular that of Anamaria Marinca who plays the “patient’s” friend Otilia. Although the abortion storyline isn’t central to her character she is, arguably, the focus of the film. We see how such an act, because of the legal factors among many others things, affects her as a person and how it shakes her to her very core. Not too dissimilar to the core of the viewer, and how the film achieves a powerful impact rarely seen in film nowadays. Most of the film’s screen time Marinca is on-screen acting her heart out, in particular a scene where she is almost forced by her boyfriend to sit through dinner with his parents as Gabita is waiting back at the hotel room. The mentioned scene stands out for many reasons, not least because it is done without any cuts and how Marinca is able to get across what the character is feeling without saying much. She is supported superbly by Vasiliu and Ivanov who both provide standing ground for Marinca to be even better than any viewer could imagine. If we don’t see some Award nods for the cast, and specifically Marinca, it would be an absolute travesty in my eyes.

For anyone out there who has read the plot outline and is wondering; is it graphic? Well in the sense that, “do they show you explicitly what is happening?” then the answer is no. But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to watch. A couple of moments in particular spring quickly to mind that may shock and inevitably test some audience members. But take my word for it; even though it may be a tough watch it is most certainly a worthwhile and rewarding one to view in its totality.

Every scene within the film is completely memorable, and I for one can’t think of the last time that has been achieved. Usually a film has some unnecessary dialogue, moments or whole scenes that you just feel could have been shortened or removed completely. In this case, however, every single scene is pivotal to the overall experience and ultimately it brings the very rare word “masterpiece” to mind. Is it good enough to be awarded with that title? In my opinion absolutely.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is one of the most rewarding experiences of the past few years and I doubt in the coming months there will be a more rewarding film released. Gritty realism hasn’t been captured like this in film in a long, long time and with three master class performances also included I can’t see a reason why anyone wouldn’t recognise just how good this film is. And I am sure it will stay in the memory much longer than the title suggests.

3 thoughts on “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”

  1. I am actually looking forward to seeing this movie, so thanks for the review. I hope (and sounds like it will) add up to my expectations.

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