This romanian movie (4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile) has received the Palme d’Or award this year, and it would have been a shame to miss it. The action is happening in 1987 in communist Romania, and we follow the story of a young student trying to help her friend who wants to have an abortion (which was illegal in the communist regime). You can find out more about the movie, see a few photos and read a blog with notes from the director here. I have been pleasantly impressed with the acting, interesting camera style and of course the way in which that era has been reproduced (and some of its bad aspects are still present today).
According to the above mentioned website of the movie:
4 months, 3 weeks & 2 days is the first film of a series belonging to a larger project called: Tales from the Golden Age – a subjective history of communism in Romania told through its urban legends. The project’s aim is to talk about that period with no direct reference to communism but only through different stories focused on personal options in a time of misfortunes that people had to live like normal times.
Handheld camera and very long single camera shots
A distinctive aspect of this movie are the very long sequences shot using a single camera. I like this in a movie, because in a way it makes it closer to theatre: it really shows you the acting. You can’t work in small segments of a few lines, you really have to act the whole scene start to finish. Handheld cameras are used a lot, especially when the camera is following the character. Another interesting use is following the character and then stopping, as if the viewer stops in one place, watching the main character walking away or taking a bus.
You can sometime get the distinct feeling that you are sitting in the same room with the characters. By shooting from one single camera for very long periods of time (many many minutes) the viewer gets the impression of actually being there. The mentality of people is also interesting to watch in this movie: the main character is determined and pleasant with other people, however she faces people with preconceptions or with a mentality typical to that era (people just standing in each other’s way, inefficient and with no intention of actually getting their jobs done). We see that what the main character (a normal, intelligent, determined, polite student) had to go through during those times.
I met with two friends to see the movie, and we agreed that the movie is tough. It is a drama, and it gets you thinking. I admired the strength of the main character, and the sacrifices she makes in the name of friendship. After a chat at the exit, before separating to go home, the three of us concluded with the ending line from the movie “let’s never speak about this again”.