4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
(4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile)
In a key scene of Romanian writer–director Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, Gabita Dragut (Laura Vasiliu) and her college roommate and friend Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) agree never again to discuss the horrific events of that day. To draw a shroud of silence over certain overwhelming experiences is a natural impulse. We avert our eyes, like urban pedestrians avoiding the gaze of a derelict on the sidewalk. Like the previous Romanian export, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 4 Months compels us not to avert our eyes.
The film is set in 1987, in the last years of the Ceausescu regime, during which abortion was illegal. As with anything else, black-market forces dictate that where demand is great enough, those willing to pay the price can find a potential supplier. Like Lazarescu, 4 Months is deliberately mundane in its naturalism, with extended, unbroken shots of blighted urban decline, low-key performances and exchanges that sound like snatches of conversation overheard in a corridor. The “fly on the wall” effect embodies the humanistic perspective, characteristic of the new Romanian cinema, simply to relate the story of a significant human event, to tell the truth without gloss or commentary, has value in itself.
4 Months throws into relief the terrible collateral of illegal backroom abortion, yet the pathos of the film's events is not exhausted by the degrading and dangerous consequences of its black-market circumstances. There is a final moment of truth in which what had been a problem to be gotten rid at any cost of is given a face, and the human dimension of the proceedings is squarely confronted.