Starring: Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov
Director: Cristian Mungiu
Running Time: 113 mins
4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days (4 luni, 3 săptămâni și 2 zile) is a Romanian film about a woman who struggles through the difficult process of organising an illegal abortion for her friend in Communist Bucharest.
No matter how you look at it, this is an extremely heavy-going film. It takes a painfully bleak look at the lives of people living in Communist Romania, it centres on a very difficult subject matter, and looks at it in excruciating detail, and its incredibly slow pacing makes it feel like a much longer film than it truly is. For me, there were some moments of pure, devastating brilliance in this film, but at other times, this was just that little bit too heavy-going and slow to get me fully invested in its story.
However, let’s start with Cristian Mungiu’s directing, which was by far the most impressive element of the film. The bleak and hopeless atmosphere is painfully apparent from the start, and it remains the driving force of everything that happens throughout. Although the film centres on a character who’s just trying to do the best for her friend, there’s barely a moment of respite from the negativity, but it’s that does make the film so enthralling at its best moments.
And the one thing that Mungiu does so well to emphasise how exhausting and devastating the events of the film are is use some amazing long takes. These long takes aren’t like some of the more dynamic ones you’ve seen in Hollywood blockbusters, but instead just sit for a good ten minutes or so and watch a conversation unfold.
Apart from the fact that the dialogue is brilliantly-written, as it slowly dawns on you that they haven’t cut away from the conversation, and these people have been talking and getting you intrigued for so long, it’s an amazing feeling that reinforces how difficult it is for everyone involved in this story to cope with such a devastating series of events.
The acting is impressive too. Although I felt that the majority of the emotional power came from Mungiu’s directing, the central performance by Anamaria Marinca was definitely still impressive. Taking on a very dark story, Marinca brilliantly shows her character fall further and further into frustration throughout the story, but she bottles it up every time, adding yet another layer of pain to the story.
Now, there were a lot of things that impressed me about 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days, however it’s not a film that I was always particularly engrossed by. It’s definitely not an enjoyable watch, but that’s one hundred percent deliberate given the nature of the film, but the way that the film does spend so long in its first act before getting to the more striking and depressing parts of the story was frustrating, and its drop-off in the final act again to a less harrowing atmosphere was a shame to see.
Of course, the film can’t be all pain and terror, but in the periods where it wasn’t such a hard watch, I found it a lot harder to get really invested in the characters’ hardships. That said, the film is still an impressive and uniquely bleak experience, thanks to some great directing and a strong central performance, and that’s why I’m giving 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days a 7.5 overall.