Chilling take on life and not an abortion film, no matter who tells you it is!
Written By: Cristian Mungiu
Directed By: Cristian Mungiu
I was struggling with how to explain the effect 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile had on me, so I did what I usually do when I am struggling to write about a movie, I did some reading on it. I like to read the thoughts of others on a movie, for the same reason that I hope people like to read my work, you can find tremendous insight in the thoughts of others. My problem in breaking down 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile in my head was that I knew it was a tremendous movie but I couldn’t quite place why I loved it so much or why it worked for me outside of the obvious acting and look of the film. Enter fellow Filmspotter, sdedalus, who posted a tremendous breakdown of the film that highlighted exactly why I loved it so much. So thank you very much sdedalus, because without your breakdown I doubt the following text would ever have been able to take shape.
First and foremost, 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile is not an abortion movie or a movie about abortion. It is a movie where an abortion is the impetus for what you see, but this film is about the people involved with the abortion, not the abortion itself. In this regard 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile doesn’t take a stance and doesn’t make any moral judgment on either Gabita or Otilia. 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile is very much a “here’s what’s happening, now you watch it and decide what you think” movie. I love those types of movies because the film maker realizes that the audience is smart and doesn’t need to be told what to think, they can watch the movie play out and come to their own conclusions. 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile is all about thinking, and it is about the people involved, not the act of abortion they are partaking in. I know that anti-abortion zealots will see this differently, but hey, I’m anti-abortion and I’m telling you, this film isn’t about the act of abortion at all and isn’t endorsing it in any way.
4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile plays like some macabre combination of a dark comedy, suspense thriller and horror movie. You have moments such as the final meal brought to Otilia and Gabita at the hotel that screams out dark comedy. The movie spends a lot of time setting up events that you think will come into play, the knife from Bebe’s briefcase, his forgotten ID, and Otilia’s trek through a darkened Romania create a deep sense of suspense, or dread for what might be coming. The horror elements are present in the way the director, Cristian Mungiu, uses the mundane urban setting to play on some standard horror scares. We all think to ourselves, “No, Otilia, don’t go down that alleyway, something bad is going to happen”, or “Get away from that guy Otilia, he’s following you, it’s dark, we can’t see him and he probably wants to kill you and wear your skin or something.” That sense of menace permeates 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile for a good part of the film, and when that menace isn’t present there is an odd discomfort. The early scenes at the dorm are awkward because we can’t figure out what is going on, and the dinner scene with Adi’s parents is extremely discomforting because all that petty talk means nothing next to what Otilia is going through.
Technically speaking 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile is a brilliantly crafted film. There aren’t many edited together scenes, most of them play out in one long take and this perhaps more than anything creates the tense mood and atmosphere. The lack of music also helps, its absence in this case causes us to realize how off kilter this world is compared to what we usually see. There are many long takes, long takes that help to show the banality of what is going on. There isn’t a moment in the film that you can point to and label a misfire.
Then you have the acting of Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov and Alexandru Potocean as Otilia, Gabita, Bebe and Adi respectively. All four actors deliver powerful, and memorable performances and each of them do so by coming from different places. Marinca stands out above the others, in her performance as the always erstwhile and put upon Otilia. She has one scene in particular, after she has prostituted herself to Bebe for Gabita, when she looks into the mirror and you see a woman that has just lost her soul and no longer knows who she is but knows she must go on. Vasiliu is great as the idiotic college kid who is in way over her head and makes mistake after mistake and doesn’t care to stop and realize what she is putting Otilia through under the guise of friendship. Potocean is much the same as Adi, a man unable to grasp what is going on, only concerned with himself and how Otilia acts around him. Lastly Ivanov is scary as the calm and reserved abortionist, taking what he wants and manipulating the girls who thought they could manipulate him. It’s a testament to the film making that in a scenario where the woman getting the abortion is the one I should detest instead I detest Bebe and feel sympathy for said woman. 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile depends on its performances and every performance delivers.
4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile has been a much talked about film due to its growing popularity, its subject matter and its confounding Oscar snub. However I still see a great number of people who want to talk about 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile as the abortion film and I can’t help but think that type of talk is doing a disservice to all this movie really has to offer. Go see 4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Si 2 Zile if you ever get the chance but do so with an open mind and do so with the knowledge that it isn’t an abortion film, and you will get much more out of the film that you otherwise would have.